5 New Technologies That Ensure Proper Hand Hygiene

Five different technology products are in use at hospitals to help ensure that physicians and staff exercise proper hand hygiene, according to a report by the American Medical News.

The compliance rate for proper hand-hygiene is a disappointing 40-50 percent, suggesting deficiencies in the usual low-tech monitoring method, using "secret shoppers" to walk around the facility to see whether staff are washing their hands. Here are the five new technologies.

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1. iScrub. This iPhone application, developed at the University of Iowa, allows secret shoppers to enter data on their iPhone or an iPod Touch.

2. HyGreen. Made by Xhale in Gainesville, Fla., this system uses technology originally developed to detect alcohol on the breath. It senses the alcohol from hand-hygiene dispensers on staff's hands. When alcohol is detected, an infrared signal is sent to the person's badge. As the as the person approaches the patient's bed, a monitor senses the badge and the badge starts vibrating.

3. Arrowsight. Arrowsight in Mount Kisco, N.Y., has been offering a video-monitoring service to track hand hygiene. The company is retooling the product and plans to introduce it within six months.

4. nGage. This product involves mechanical switches on gel dispensers that are linked by RFID to sensors in the person's badges, detecting their proximity. It is made by Proventix Systems in Birmingham, Ala.

5. Versus. Versus Technology is in the middle of repurposing its RFID product used to locate supplies and measure nurse workflow so it can be used for hand hygiene. Several hospitals are experimenting with the new device.

Read the American Medical News report on hand hygiene.

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