Clean Hands? There’s an App for That. – Part 3 of 3Posted on by
Guest Author — Dr. Philip Polgreen
University of Iowa,
Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine
Imagine driving down a road and seeing a roadside speed device telling you that you are driving 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. Would you slow down? Chances are, most of us would. My colleagues and I are hoping a similar concept, combined with a free iPhone application, will also help healthcare personnel think twice and follow hand hygiene guidelines.
We all know that hand hygiene is important for preventing healthcare- associated infections (HAIs), yet hand hygiene rates among healthcare workers remain unacceptably low. There are many reasons why healthcare workers do not consistently perform hand hygiene, and many interventions have been suggested to change behavior. One promising approach is to remind healthcare workers how they are doing. The hope is that reminding healthcare workers about hand hygiene might alter their behavior. Perhaps if that behavior is firmly in place, such reminders might not be necessary in the future. Think about seatbelts.
There are a range of new technologies available, some commercially, to electronically monitor if healthcare workers are practicing hand hygiene. These systems can be costly and difficult to implement system wide. Therefore, most hospitals use human observers to monitor hand hygiene practices. Some new approaches combine electronic and human monitoring, using electronic devices to closely observe and record worker hand hygiene activity. This helps healthcare personnel, administrators, and researchers understand hand hygiene behavior and can help guide interventions in healthcare settings.
One new twist on this combination of monitoring is iScrub, a free iPhone application developed at the University of Iowa’s Computational Epidemiology group with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). iScrub is designed to replace clipboards and paper and allows observers to record hand hygiene behavior. The iPhone application helps decrease the time it takes to feed rates back to healthcare workers. It also standardizes reporting, avoids data entry errors, and makes it more fun to record observations. The app is free and available in the iTunes store. iScrub can be used on an iPhone, iPodTouch, or iPad. For more information on the iScrub application, please visit https://compepi.cs.uiowa.edu/iscrub/home/.
Have you tried iScrub? What are your thoughts about monitoring on a large scale? Is this really needed in all hospital rooms? How does your facility ensure proper hand hygiene?