Clean Care is Safer Care

Clean Care is Safer Care
August 30, 2012 at 11:08am

According to the World Health Organization of every 100 hospitalized patients, at least seven in developed and 10 in developing countries get healthcare-related infections. WHO says many of these infections can be avoided with better hand hygiene. But how can healthcare institutions increase compliance on an institutional level?

Traditionally, to monitor hand hygiene, hospitals used observational tracking ­– the so-called “secret shopper” approach. However these metrics are not always entirely reliable. The reason is fairly obvious: when staff members see somebody walking around with a clipboard, it doesn’t take them long to figure out what’s going on. So to help hospitals reach their hygiene compliance goals and reduce the threat of infection, we found an innovative solution to reduce human errors.

It started with a collaboration to develop, test, and refine a proprietary technology solution to measure, monitor, and improve hand hygiene compliance. A radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) light system tracks the entry and exit of badged clinicians with room-level specificity and records whether or not they washed their hands when entering and leaving each room. Weekly charts were provided by healthcare provider and by room.

With this system, nursing managers were able to see the traffic in each room over a 24-hour period and who was assigned to each room. The data was valuable because it provided the capacity to see process flow. Based on this data, questions and insights unsurfaced: “Why is this nursing assistant going in and out of a room so much? Is it overwork? Is she forgetting things?” The technology creates the opportunity to explore why people were having a difficult time. If a patient acquired an infection, one could use the data to assess the hand hygiene compliance within that room. The technology also uncovers trends over a 24-hour period. When was the highest non-compliance rate? Was it at change of shift? When do staff wash their hands the most?

Insights like these are invaluable because they enable hospitals to change behaviors. It’s another step toward using technology tools to assure standards and performance. Technical solutions like this can help us reduce human errors in judgment and transform healthcare by bringing safer healthcare to more people.

To learn more about GE’s Smart Patient Room, click here.

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