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AI-Based Solution Monitors Hand Hygiene Behavior

Image courtesy of Sani nudge Sani nudge
A healthcare professional wears a sensor on her badge.
Sani nudge’s system provides valuable data on employee hand hygiene habits and patient contact, which could lead to significant reduction in absentee rates of healthcare staff and an increase in the overall compliance of a medical center.

“Increased hand-hygiene compliance does prevent infection outbreaks,” said Nancy Carleton, head of marketing at Sani nudge, in an interview with MD+DI. “We talk right now about intervention strategies to help keep people healthy in terms of the COVID environment, and hand hygiene is a top strategy for preventing infections.”

Unfortunately, it has been difficult to know who is washing their hands correctly and who is not. According to a study conducted by Sani nudge, only 30 percent of healthcare professionals sanitized their hands in situations where it was required.

So, Sani nudge, with the collaboration of researchers from the Momental Foundation, has further researched the monitoring solution that can provide data on employee hygiene habits, as well as patient contact, to encourage more compliant behavior. The collaboration was aimed to classify healthcare situations to better predict what human behaviors will be, with the goal of reducing hospital-acquired infections and the potentially fatal resistance to antibiotics.

“Our monitoring system was developed by a nurse who recognized that there was a need for improvement in hand-hygiene compliance in her department,” said Carleton. “There is a behavioral theory called the Hawthorne effect, which is when you're directly observing someone, they are likely to change their behavior. What they found is that the nurses had 100% compliance in hand hygiene when they were being directly observed, but it wasn't the case otherwise when they weren't being directly observed.”

“So [the nurse] recognized that there had to be a way of monitoring compliance ongoing, so that they could pull the data to be able to see which rooms, which patient interaction, and which places that there were issues,” Carleton continued, explaining that the nurse eventually aligned with Sani nudge’s CEO and CTO, who were studying behavioral theory and using nudging to encourage behavior, to develop the system.

In the Sani nudge monitoring system, each nurse or doctor at a hospital wears a small ID with a sensor on their badge. Any time that they use a soap or sanitizer dispenser, the sensor records the length of time that they are sanitizing. There is also a sensor that monitors direct patient interaction.

“That data is all built into a comprehensive user dashboard, so infection-prevention nurses and specialists can go in and actually see what the trends of behaviors are,” said Carleton. “They are able to measure before and after patient contact and the patient’s near surroundings which are World Health Organization compliance levels Hygiene based on this reporting.”

The system has been shown to work well to reduce infections, both in patients and hospital personnel, Carleton said. “In one case we had a university hospital we worked with for a study over 12 months and they had a 250 percent increase in hand-hygiene compliance,” she said. “The other thing that is interesting when it comes to preventing infection is that because the hospital team is being so hygienic, it's proven there's a strong sharp reduction in the absentee rate of healthcare staff.”

Additionally, each hospital can standardize the system to conform with their own existing guidelines. “Our system is able to adapt to specific healthcare facility guidelines in order to create that behavioral change,” Carleton said. “So it's been pretty exciting because the innovation of technology is making a difference in a place where you drastically need to make sure that people are safe,” she concluded.

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