Wednesday, December 26, 2012
High-tech system measures hand hygiene success Summerville Medical Center (SMC) has teamed up with General Electric Healthcare on a high-tech pilot project. This program measures hand hygiene success by hospital staff any time an employee interacts with a patient. “You want to do everything you can to minimize exposure of to yourself and others, especially patients,” says Chris Mosley, SMC vice president of operations. Nationally, the need for healthcare workers to consistently clean their hands has gained increased attention in recent years. That led GE Healthcare to develop its Hand Hygiene Solution to effectively monitor and measure hand hygiene compliance. This pilot program measures the success SMC has had in implementing higher standards of patient care. Using radio frequency identification technology and infrared light sensors, the system tracks when a badged employee goes in and out of a patient’s room. Plus, it records when the employee pumps the hand sanitizer gel dispenser outside the patient’s door, which staff members do each time they enter or exit. While employees could wash their hands the traditional way, with soap and water, hand sanitizer offers an efficient and effective cleaning method for those who are in constant contact with patients. SMC initially introduced the new system on its intensive care unit and by this fall had expanded it to patient rooms throughout the hospital. Phillip Shearer, a senior delivery manager for GE Healthcare, has worked directly with Mosley and others at SMC to fine-tune the system. “There’s been a very nice give and take,” Shearer says. “Ideas are flowing back and forth in order to make the system meaningful to all involved.” Using the corresponding software, the hospital can track data on hand hygiene compliance in real time and in a variety of ways, for example, verifying success rates on certain times of the day or week. It can also break the data down to a specific employee, room or visit. Beyond hand hygiene, the data also could be helpful for other purposes, Shearer says, because it records visits to patient rooms and shows how long they last. “You want to do everything you can to minimize exposure of to yourself and others, especially patients.” -Chris Mosley, SMC vice president of operations.