Ensuring hospital staff have clean hands is the basis of good hygiene and one health care provider is taking that to the next level with new technology.
South Australian-based health care provider sportsmed have become the first in the nation to use a badge which lights up when staff have – or have not – washed their hands.
American company BioVigil created the technology, which utilises a traffic light system.
sportsmed staff and their patients can see a green, yellow or red hand print on the BioVigil badge – green means hands are safe and clean; yellow is a reminder to clean; and red advises people to stop immediately and clean their hands.
sportsmed executive officer of hospital and orthopaedics, Alan Morrison, said when a healthcare worker went into a patient room and did not perform “hand hygiene” within two seconds, the badge would vibrate and turn yellow.
“If a further 60 seconds goes by without any action taken, the badge turns red and will only go back to green once cleaning has taken place,” he said.
The BioVigil badge sensed when users had applied alcohol-based sanitiser or washed hands with soap and water.
“Good hand hygiene is one of the single biggest things a hospital can do to reduce the incidence of Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAI’s),” Mr Morrison said.
“It’s importance is why there is a benchmark level set by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality and reported in the myHospitals website.
“Private hospitals are doing well against this benchmark (just over 85 per cent at the end of 2018).
“sportsmed was at 90.4 per cent for this same period but we believe we should and could do better.
“Indications from initial use of the system show we are now at 97 per cent.”
Mr Morrison added staff at the hospital were excited about the technology.
“Like all change processes, we have engaged with staff through the journey to implementation with clear messaging around how the technology will help them provide the best patient care and experience,” he said.
“We have just finished week one and have a number of staff really championing the system and its benefits.
“It has been a challenge getting everyone trained but we have made it and now look forward to providing feedback to staff highlighting the success stories.”
And according to Mr Morrison, it’s the patients who will really benefit from the technology.
“Patients can be assured that we are providing a safe environment for their care, and the visual nature of the system at all points of care means they can see that those caring for them have performed appropriate hand hygiene,” he said.
“The system is very visual and we engage with patients in regards to the system to empower them to question when a badge indicates someone hasn’t washed their hands. This is empowering for patients.”
BioVigil’s CEO, Sanjay Gupta, said they were proud to have sportsmed as their first Australian customer.
He said the technology created a strong culture of patient safety in hospitals and empowered patients by protecting against HAI’s.
“Proper hand hygiene, which includes hand washing and the use of alcohol-based sanitiser, is the single most effective method in preventing transmission of infections,” he said.
“Infection preventionists and nurse managers don’t have time to remind and coach healthcare workers to clean their hands at every hand hygiene opportunity, but BioVigil does.”
Mr Morrison said sportsmed were always on the lookout for ways to be at the forefront of improving patient care and experience.
“I believe that technology will continue to play a big part in improving outcomes (in health care) moving forward,” he said.
“Smart, relevant and relatively inexpensive technologies like this one will probably gain traction, particularly where they solve specific problems and make marked differences.”
Sportsmed is a healthcare provider with a private orthopaedic hospital and specialist clinics across a number of locations. Its state-of-the-art health care hub at Stepney, South Australia, is the only purpose-built orthopaedic facility in Australia.