Top 5 Hand Hygiene Trends for the New Year

By Chris Hermann

Even a seemingly straightforward industry such as hand hygiene is surprisingly nuanced. As 2017 comes to a close, we’d like to talk about the developments we’re noticing as we ease into 2018.

Here are the top 5 trends specific to electronic hand hygiene performance systems that we’ve seen.

  1. The most important trend we’ve noticed recently is that hospitals (and related major organizations) are increasingly unwilling to tolerate subpar hand hygiene rates. The leading institutes are realizing that Direct Observation is now the “Fool’s Gold” standard, so they’re seeking alternatives to improve the safety of patients. Hospital leaders are finally admitting they have a problem, but they’re doing so quietly.  Fortunately, admitting you have a problem is always step number one to lasting change.
  2. The Joint Commission just quietly redefined the entire industry, and will elevate the discussion around hand hygiene. There is no value to any hospital in investing in people or technology that simply monitors hand hygiene. Instead, they must drive towards behavior change. This is an absolute imperative for patient safety, and these new Joint Commission changes will elevate the discussion to an appropriate level in order to lead to sustainable change.
  3. Relatedly, fewer hospitals are installing new technology and relying solely on it to change hand hygiene behavior. They’re realizing this doesn’t work. The culture around hand hygiene needs to change. Technology can measure this, but it can’t drive it. There needs to be a data-driven process in place to work with clinicians to change behavior and habits.
  4. The majority of clinicians that struggle with hand hygiene need education, but that is not always the case. Hospital leaders are continually surprised by how many questions come up with even the simplest hand hygiene policies. Still, there many other, different barriers to hand hygiene success. Most of the current monitoring methods (both Direct Observation and many of the more basic electronic systems on the market) can’t tell you why someone is not washing their hands, nor help facilitate the solution.
  5. Hospitals are realizing that a punitive approach doesn’t work…for anything. Whether it is training a pet, potty training a toddler, or changing the behavior of clinicians, everyone agrees that punitive approaches don’t work. They can, however, leave lasting scars. There are positive approaches that build in gamification, rewards, and the public celebration of top performers to make hand hygiene a fun part of patient safety.

Are there other hand hygiene trends you’re aware of? If you’d like to learn more about how Clean Hands – Safe Hands is leading the trends above, click here to download a white paper about our process or contact us.

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