5 Reasons Why You Should Automate Hand Hygiene Compliance

5 Reasons Why You Should Automate Hand Hygiene Compliance

Washing your hands is a simple yet effective way to prevent the spread of infection. But according to the CDC, healthcare workers clean their hands less than half of the times they should, facilitating the spread of new infections. Manual direct observation of hand hygiene events is simply an outdated method to monitor or improve compliance within healthcare facilities. Automated hand hygiene compliance is an innovative approach that has been proven to improve compliance, reduce infections and their associated costs and enhancing the patient safety environment. Here are 5 reasons why you should automate hand hygiene compliance:

1) Manual observation is painfully inaccurate, accounting for a mere 1.2% to 3.5% or less of all hand hygiene events that take place within a healthcare facility. Observation of such a small sample does not provide an accurate representation of hand hygiene compliance within a hospital. In addition, manual observation allows for the Hawthorne Effect, which is the potential to influence the behavior of those who know they are being observed. In a hospital setting, this phenomenon translates to inflated rates of hand hygiene compliance. It is a proven fact that the Hawthorne Effect has caused hand hygiene compliance rates to be overstated by up to 300%. With an automated hand hygiene system, 100% of hand hygiene events are accurately recorded and monitored, creating a true picture of healthcare workers’ hand washing habits.

2) It holds healthcare workers accountable. With data corresponding to 100% of all hand hygiene events, hospital staff are held accountable for washing their hands all the time, not just the times they are being physically watched for compliance. Notifications and alerts serve as friendly reminders to staff to keep in accordance with hospital standards for clean hands.

3) It prevents infection. While receiving medical treatment at a hospital, patients are at risk of contracting healthcare-associated infections (HAI). In fact, according to the CDC, about 1 in 25 hospital patients contracts at least one healthcare-associated infection during their stay. HAI accounts for more than 700,000 unnecessary infections annually, while an average of 75,000 of those patients die during their hospital stay. Utilizing an electronic monitoring solution promotes hand hygiene compliance and has been proven to reduce infections and their associated costs. (CITE Kelly et al AJIC Aug 2016) Upon implementation, e monitoring data can deliver an objective, consistent, and long-term means of collecting and reporting data to improve patient safety.

4) It saves money. Healthcare-associated infections means more time spent in the hospital, and higher costs to healthcare facilities. According to the CDC in a 2009 report on HAI related costs, the average annual per patient cost to a hospital for all HAI was $18,581. The report also indicates that if just 20% of infections were prevented, the cost savings would be between $5.7 and $6.8 billion. E monitoring has been associated with a savings of over $433,000 in the first year on a 647 bed implementation. (Cite Kelly et al 2016 AJIC August)

5) It improves clinical workflow. Unlike other types of monitoring, an electronic hand hygiene monitoring system does not interfere with workflow because it does not require any effort on the healthcare workers’ part. There are no distractions and no manual recording of information. In fact, electronic monitoring can actually improve workflow because of its ability to be seamlessly integrated into a healthcare worker’s routine.

This blog has been contributed by CenTrak, a member of EHCO.

GR Baker, CD Furness, M Gardem, JA Srigley. “Quantification of the Hawthorne effect in hand hygiene compliance monitoring using an electronic monitoring system: a retrospective cohort study.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. July 7, 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=srigley+quantification.