“By Clinicians, For Clinicians” – What Does That Really Mean?

By Chris Hermann

Clean Hands – Safe Hands is the only electronic hand hygiene monitoring system that was designed by clinicians, for clinicians. But what does that really mean? And why should you care?

Eleven years ago, when I was in graduate school, a physician I was working with mentioned that hand hygiene was a big problem for her hospital and they didn’t have a good way to solve it.  Her observation was that providers were very busy and needed a reminder to perform hand hygiene. This is how our company started, responding to the request of a clinician.

Throughout this entire journey, the key foundational aspect that has guided our decision process at every step has been listening to – and doing everything in our power to respond to – clinician needs.

The first and most important lesson that we learned is that “needs” is plural. Despite hand hygiene being a relatively simple concept, it took us a while to understand that there are no “one size fits all” solutions.

I was working in an ICU with an early hand hygiene champion nurse who was helping to test our very first system. We had been working for a couple of weeks to refine things and everything was going great.

That lasted about 12 hours…The very next day, our champion had a new patient in the same room with RSV that was on isolation precautions. Everything we had worked to address went out the window because the nurse needed more time to gown and glove. It took a couple of years for technology to catch up, but we developed Adaptive Room Modes™ to respond to the need to have our system respond in real time to patient needs.

The very first iteration of the CHSH technology included an alarm that would beep when a clinician would fail to clean their hands. One of the first physicians we were working with took one look and responded “No beeps. Everything in my ICU beeps at me and I ignore all of them except the ventilator.” She was right – a beep wouldn’t work, so this is why we developed our Natural Language Voice Reminder™. This gently captures clinicians’ attention through the clutter of other, non-human sounds. To this day, this has been the single biggest driver of changing clinicians’ behavior.

Our team continues to learn new things every day and respond to clinician request. I was in a critical care unit recently that had just turned on our Natural Language Voice Reminder™. I was talking with the staff and everything was going well except their corner room. All of the staff assigned to that room said that they needed an extra half second before the voice went off. We went to take a look and sure enough, the dispensers in that one room were a bit further from the door.

We have come a long way since our early days when it would take us months or years to develop the technology necessary to respond to their needs. I pulled out my phone, and within about 30 seconds, I re-programmed that room to give them the extra time needed.

Responding and adapting to each hospital’s real-world challenges is built into everything we do, from system setup to reporting. I constantly push our team to adapt our system to each hospital’s workflows and needs, rather than trying to force them to adapt to ours.

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