Low-Cost Method for Monitoring Developed

The novel method of monitoring hand hygiene compliance is essential for infection control in hospitals. "We know that a range of pathogens are spread from healthcare workers to patients by direct touch and that the current rates of hand hygiene compliance are suboptimal," said Philip Polgreen, University of Iowa Health Care. "Our new low-cost method of monitoring could potentially reduce cost while increasing compliance rates."

The researchers use "Zigbee" technology which is part of a new generation of wireless devices that require less power. Workers wear small, pager-sized badges to monitor their use of hand hygiene dispenser stations prior to entering patient rooms.

Ted Herman, the lead computer scientist on the project, designed badge construction and placement of small beacons inside patient rooms and other designated locations. "A novel part of our method is how data are recorded," Herman said, "data are recorded and processed in the badges rather than relying on a network." Each use of the dispenser station is automatically reported by the user's badge, which logs the time and length of use, date and dispenser ID number. The data from the badges can be automatically off-loaded multiple times, which means results are recorded and aggregated without any manual data entry.

The automated monitoring system correctly identified more than 90 percent of study subjects entering and exiting patient rooms when they remained in the room for 30 seconds. When the time in the room is increased to 60 seconds, the monitoring system approaches 100 percent identification of subjects entering and exiting patient rooms.

The study findings suggest that there is potential for this new technology to change the behaviour of healthcare workers and increase compliance. Polgreen points out that more testing in a variety of hospital settings is necessary, but that the technology offers hospitals a cost-effective option to implement automated monitoring of hand hygiene compliance.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Iowa