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Automated Hand Hygiene Monitoring to Launch this Summer

Automated Hand Hygiene Monitoring to Launch this Summer

May 2, 2022
Vakula Atthota MD

In the coming months, Inspira will introduce an automated hand hygiene monitoring system with the goals of improving hand hygiene practices and enhancing patient safety. The electronic system will track the handwashing and sanitizing events of staff and providers. The provider go-live date will follow a thorough early summer test period. Formally known as Intelligent Observation, the system is being installed at Inspira’s Mullica Hill, Vineland, and Elmer hospitals.

“Since the pandemic, we have seen a significant increase in healthcare-associated infections all across the nation, so it’s time to re-double our hand hygiene efforts,” said Vakula D. Atthota, M.D., chair of the Inspira Infection Prevention and Control Committee.

“Automated monitoring systems have a number of advantages over traditional observations and secret shopper monitoring. This system allows us to capture larger amounts of data, more accurately and in real-time, with little Hawthorne Effect and no observer bias. We can also react quickly to the real-time information and use it to educate and train staff appropriately when needed.” 

How the System Works 

Each employee and provider who works in a clinical area will be given a smart badge reel, replacing their traditional badge clip. The badge reels will interact with beacons installed above each doorway as well as in each soap and sanitizer dispenser. 

Here’s an example of how the system works: The beacon above the door recognizes when a staff member or provider enters a patient’s room. The system is then able to determine if this person has washed their hands, when and for how long. Last, the beacon above the door will recognize when this person leaves a room and whether hand hygiene is performed on exit. 

“From a data collection standpoint, this system allows us to collect unbiased data using the same methods every time,” said Dr. Atthota. “And it helps us all to stay accountable with hygiene practices —there is even an option to set a reminder tone if the system detects that hand hygiene has not been performed appropriately.”

How the Data Will Be Used 

The Intelligent Observation system tracks hand hygiene at both the organization and individual levels. This will enable our Infection Prevention and Control team to identify groups of staff and providers who may not be complying with hand hygiene standards and create a plan of action to improve compliance.

“As an HRO, our approach is to reinforce behaviors that will reduce the risk of harm. We can do this by strengthening good hand hygiene habits,” Dr. Atthota. “Ultimately, the goal of this multimodal intervention is to make health care safer for providers, employees, and our patients.”

As a high reliability organization, Inspira is dedicated to streamlining processes that improve patient safety. This system will eliminate the human error that comes with manual data collection while more accurately pinpointing departments and groups who may need a reminder to wash their hands more frequently. 

In addition, the system tracks the use of soap versus hand sanitizer to monitor for appropriate hand hygiene based on the presence or absence of enteric bacteria, like C. diff, for individual patients.

The plan calls for smart badge reels to be distributed to staff in June 2022. After the system is thoroughly tested, the badge reels will be distributed to providers. If you have any questions about the hand hygiene monitoring system, please contact Meredith Spena, R.N., M.S.N., C.I.C., manager of Infection Prevention and Control, at

Topics: Patient Safety