Electronic Compliance Monitoring is the New Frontier in Hand Hygiene Compliance

Electronic Compliance Monitoring is the New Frontier in Hand Hygiene Compliance

Kathy Cunningham


By Kathy Cunningham, RN, BSEd, CNN

Did you know that an ICU nurse could have as many as 240 opportunities to perform hand hygiene during a twelve-hour shift?1  But how many of these numerous opportunities are actually taken?

Studies show that continuing education is needed to inform healthcare workers and remind them of the indications for hand hygiene.2 Proper performance at key moments during patient care is the most important means of preventing healthcare associated infections.3  With increasing awareness of the cost and impact of healthcare-acquired infections (HAI), hospital leadership is realizing that hand hygiene improvement initiatives are critical and need to be integrated into routine procedures.

Historically, direct observation has been the “gold standard” of compliance monitoring, but it can be labor intensive and costly. It requires uniformity in the selection and training of observers and in the recording of the data. 4 Furthermore, behavior might be altered only when healthcare workers know they’re being observed, a temporary behavioral change known as the Hawthorne effect. Finally, direct observation only captures a small sample, no more than three percent of all opportunities to perform hand hygiene.5

That’s why electronic compliance monitoring (ECM) is such an exciting innovation.

Leading-Edge Technology

Electronic compliance monitoring (ECM) is a relatively new monitoring and reporting method available to healthcare organizations. Because these systems function automatically, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they capture a far greater number of hand hygiene opportunities, and in an unbiased manner.

There are several types of electronic monitoring systems available. Among them:

Activity/community based – System functions so that all who enter or exit a patient room – staff, patients and visitors alike – are monitored for compliance.

Real Time Locator System (RTLS) – A badge-based system that automatically records hand hygiene opportunities and events.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) – Yet another badge-based system, RFID uses radio frequency to issue reminders and indicators of hand hygiene compliance at the point of care.

Video Recording Monitoring – This method of measuring compliance electronically isn’t fully automated in that it requires someone watching the videos to provide feedback.

Electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring is a new frontier in Infection Control programs. Its use is a valuable tool for accurately educating healthcare workers on their hand hygiene performance, for tracking performance improvements and acting on the trends identified in the data.

See how GOJO has advanced the technology of electronic compliance monitoring with SMARTLINK™ Hand Hygiene Solutions.

1 Kirk, J.M (2013) Hand hygiene compliance measurement. Available from        http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/whitepapers/2013/05/hand-hygiene-compliance- measurement.aspx
2 The Joint Commission. (2009). Measuring Hand Hygiene Adherence: Overcoming the Challenges pg. xv.
3 Pincock, T. et al. (2012) Bundling hand hygiene interventions and measurement to decrease health care-associated infections. American Journal of Infection Control. 40. S18-S27.
4 The Joint Commission. (2009). Measuring Hand Hygiene Adherence: Overcoming the Challenges pg. 19.
5 Measuring Healthcare Worker Hand Hygiene Activity: Current Practices and Emerging Technologies, John Boyce, ICHE October 2011, Vol. 32, No. 10.

Add your comment

Name Email Comment

View Blog By Author +


Contact Information

Contact: Kelly Ward-Smith, Public Relations Senior Manager

Phone Number: 330-255-6293
Mobile Phone: 330-819-8638

Email: SmithKe@GOJO.com

This contact information is for news media only. For other inquiries, please contact GOJO customer service at 1-800-321-9647 or use the GOJO Contact Us form.