Tracking Hand Washing Decreases the Spread of Infection at Hospitals; Lowers Expenses

By Maggie Markey

Hand washing is one of the most important daily routines to avoid the spreading of bacteria and disease, especially in hospitals and healthcare centers. For environments where infections and disease are ever-present, it’s vital to protect those who are ill from potential risks that may cause additional complications.

Clean Hands Safe Hands (CHSH) is a non-intrusive wireless technology designed to help hospitals monitor and report hand hygiene compliance. The Bluetooth-enabled hand sanitizer monitoring system alerts caregivers when they forget to sanitize their hands.

THE CHALLENGE: HIGH RISK OF INFECTION

With over 50 million medical procedures carried out per year in the US, hospitals are at a high risk of spreading diseases and infections. According to the CDC, in 2011 there were 721,800 hospital-acquired infections, over 10% of which ended with the death of a patient.

CHSH saw an opportunity to decrease the frequency and overall impact caused by this deadly problem. In collaborating hospitals like Emory Healthcare and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, CEO Chris Hermann, PhD and the CHSH team developed technology that allows hospitals to monitor staff’s sanitizing habits as they enter patients’ rooms.

For an efficient and accurate process, CHSH needed wireless communication to seamlessly occur in the background as a nurse or doctor passes by or uses the sanitizing stations. CHSH also saw the need for the hand sanitizers to communicate with one another, so professionals weren’t alerted unnecessarily, which could affect staff acceptance for the system and inaccurate data.

SOLUTION

The unobtrusive CHSH Badge Reel communicates via Bluetooth to the CHSH Sensors connected to the existing hand hygiene product dispensers. The sensors are also equipped with Digi’s XBee® Gateway with ZigBee® technology. The XBee Gateway enables the hand sanitizers to create a mesh network, so each sanitizer is aware of the data collected by another. This avoids unnecessary reminders for professionals who just used another hand sanitizer in a nearby location. The XBee Gateway comes with integration to Digi Remote Manager, so data is passed to the cloud automatically, where it’s collected, stored and sent to an application for further use.

“The hardware has been fantastic to work with, and really sets our technology apart in this space,” said Hermann.

The sensors uniquely identify each employee and record hand hygiene events throughout the health system. As staff members enter or exit rooms, they have a specific amount of time to sanitize before the sensor records the event.

The CHSH sensors are mounted to dispensers equipped with soap and alcohol. When needed, the sensor provides a subtle voice reminder to staff and records the use of the dispenser.

Using a unique identifier for each employee, the CHSH Badge Reels, each of which has a battery that lasts a full year, communicates with the sensors to determine compliance at an individual staff level.

RESULTS

Many CHSH systems will be implemented in hospitals during the first quarter of 2015. By utilizing partners such as Emory Healthcare and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, CHSH was built in the environment it needs to thrive in. “Without the help of the clinicians at Emory and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, this innovation wouldn’t have been possible.”

Hermann credits the ability to implement CHSH on a large scale over the next year to the ease of implementation. “The Digi hardware allows us to install the technology in a hospital without disrupting any of their infrastructures. Not only does this make the installation process very simple, but it is a major advantage over other competitors that typically require extensive modification to the hospitals’ IT infrastructure. It literally was a 15-minute discussion with IT to get us approved and live in one of the hospitals.

“Digi gives us a real competitive advantage. We created CHSH to improve patient safety, and we are excited to aid in that prevention with wireless technology.”

(Click here to read the original article.)

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