SMARTLINK Observation

An A-Ha Moment that Resulted in Improved Hand Hygiene Compliance

Tamara Cross


By Tamara Cross

SMARTLINK Solutions, Product Management Director

Hand hygiene is considered the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infection and help save lives in healthcare settings. Yet, hand hygiene compliance in healthcare facilities is not where it should be. In fact, compliance rates average less than 50% nationally1.

Hospitals and healthcare facilities, like Hanover Hospital in Hanover, Pennsylvania, recognize the importance of hand hygiene, but also understand there are barriers to compliance. This is why the Infection Prevention Team at Hanover transitioned to electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring.

Jennifer Laughman, BS, MT(ASCP), CIC, Supervisor, Infection Preventionist, Quality Improvement at Hanover, assembled a team to take a closer look at ways to increase patient safety. One of the first steps Laughman and her colleagues took was conducting research on electronic compliance systems as a tool to help monitor hand hygiene. Having previously relied on direct observation, the Hanover Team was looking for a system that provided a true representation of compliance at their hospital.

Laughman and her team selected the GOJO® SMARTLINK™ Activity Monitoring System (AMS) because group monitoring was the best fit for the hospital’s culture. Also, they wanted to use the system to show that hand hygiene was a habit for everyone, not just for one individual to uphold.

During the initial phase of the program (the team tested the system on one floor), Laughman and her team experienced what she described as an “a-ha” moment – one in which her team saw that their compliance numbers weren’t what they had thought they were. This one single moment allowed her and her team to expand the GOJO® SMARTLINK™ Solution past the initial testing phase.

Today, the hospital is seeing a marked improvement in hand hygiene compliance. The first two units that were installed have increased their hand hygiene rates to between 50-55%; up from 27%. Laughman also pointed out that the staff now takes full responsibility for the data and their performance.

Thinking of implementing electronic compliance monitoring at your hospital? Here is some advice from Laughman:

  • ECM Systems are extremely beneficial. They provide data that you cannot get on your own. They bring intense awareness of hand hygiene to the entire organization.
  • Give your team the test. Ask them to perform the 20-minute Hand Hygiene observation challenge.
  • Senior level engagement is essential. Get alignment with the top of your organization to help drive change.
  • Be patient. It takes time. This kind of change is hard work and takes time for people to accept.

Learn more:

1. American Journal of Medical Quality, 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2017, from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1062860609332369

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