‘Gamifying’ hand hygiene in hospitals may reduce hospital acquired infections

07 May 2019

Hand Hygiene Compliance is a research initiative of Monash University Art, Design and Architecture’s Health Collab.

Monash University researchers have designed a system to improve hand hygiene culture in hospitals which aims to reduce hospital acquired infections (HAIs).

The system aims to improve hand hygiene outcomes in healthcare environments and comes ahead of the World Health Organisation’s World Hand Hygiene Day on Sunday 5 May 2019.

Professor Mark Armstrong, Creative Director of Monash University Art, Design and Architecture’s Health Collab said:

The problem is that hospital clinicians and staff often miss hand hygiene moments because they are rushed or under difficult circumstances. When they miss a hand hygiene moment, bacteria can be transferred from one patient to another, or from a clinician to a patient and these strains of bacteria can cause very aggressive infections which are sometimes resistant to antibiotics.

Monash Design, IT and Engineering researchers collaborated on the multi-disciplinary project with industry partners Enware Australia Pty Limited on the tapware infrastructure, Oracle for cloud data collection services and Monash Health for clinical insights.

The project monitors the hand hygiene habits of individual workers through a system of Internet of Things (IoT) enabled hand hygiene touchpoints. It then collects the data to form a cloud-based map of clinical hand hygiene in a hospital ward.

The interactive hand hygiene system was designed with clinical tapware manufacturer Enware which provided funding for the research and design program. It includes advanced wash stations interactive screens, alcohol based hand rub dispensers and turnstiles.

“We believe we can improve hand hygiene outcomes by taking a human centred design approach and focus on enhancing the hand washing and hygiene experience,” Jason Hinds, Research and Development Manager, for Enware said.

Data collected at wash stations feeds into a cloud based system and mobile app that provides healthcare workers with a daily hand hygiene performance score and reminders to wash their hands.

The cloud-based data collection and real time mobile feedback was supported by Oracle’s IoT capability.

The system uses the Oracle Autonomous Database and Oracle Analytics Cloud to analyse patient data and assess the system’s impact on service efficiency and patient health outcomes.

“The new hand hygiene system is a unique innovation underpinned by Oracle technology that works to address a wicked problem by analysing hand hygiene and communicating this to healthcare professionals in real-time,” Peter Williams, Healthcare Innovator APAC at Oracle said.

“This not only improves compliance and minimises the human and financial cost of hospital acquired infections, it’s also a significant move in changing the culture around hand hygiene to improve patient outcomes.”

The research project team are currently developing an Alpha version system to test and verify its efficacy. Monash hopes to roll out the project in hospitals within the next two years.

“Hand hygiene non-compliance results in significant hospital costs, but small improvements could lead to savings to the healthcare system by reducing the number of hospital acquired infections,” Professor Don Campbell, General Physician and Service Director of Monash Community at Monash Health said.

“This design led approach, if successful, could have a significant impact on healthcare outcomes.”