Health system uses analytics to measure hand-washing compliance

Data analytics and electronic monitoring have been deployed by Greenville Health System in South Carolina to improve hand hygiene compliance among staff members, HealthITAnalytics reports.

The monitoring system was developed following research that uncovered hospital staff hand-washing compliance to be at roughly 54 percent, according to Tom Diller, former vice president of quality and patient safety at Greenville. Diller now serves as VP and system chief medical officer at Irving, Texas-based CHRISTUS Health.

For the compliance study, Greenville placed video cameras in patient rooms to monitor clinician hygiene activity. Researchers, however, based compliance on a World Health Organization methodology dubbed "Five Moments of Hand Hygiene" that pinpointed various hand-washing opportunities. They measured the number of times clinicians should have washed their hands vs. the number of times washing actually took place.

"Most systems on the market at this point use a methodology that is what I'll call 'entry and exit,'" Diller told HealthITAnalytics. He said that such tools often use a chip in a badge to determine whether or not employees use a soap or sanitizer dispenser, but called it problematic

"It's not evidence-based practice," Diller said.

Columbus, Ohio-based OhioHealth earlier this year announced a pilot to improve hand-washing efforts across its 17 hospitals using big data and wireless sensors.

Meanwhile, research published last summer concluded that electronic monitoring helped to dramatically improve hand hygiene among nurses in Canada. For the study, researchers developed a system that automatically detected hand hygiene opportunities and recorded hygiene actions, and installed it at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Badges worn by 14 nurses that were connected with sensors in patient areas buzzed whenever the nurses failed to wash their hands.

Proper hand hygiene can reduce methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections by as much as 95 percent, according to Virginia Commonwealth University researchers. In a nine-year study published in fall of 2012, researchers found horizontal infection-prevention strategies that encourage hand washing to prevent MRSA and other infections that are transmitted via contact could be more effective than the traditional vertical approach of simply isolating MRSA patients.

To learn more:
- read the HealthITAnalytics post