Initiatives such as the World Health Organisation’s “Five Moments of Hand Hygiene” have helped to instill discipline and reduce infection rates at healthcare facilities around the world.
Healthcare professionals and infection prevention specialists understand that hand hygiene is central to their efforts to protect patients and prevent unnecessary illnesses. Facilities have developed robust protocals and processes geared to minimise the risk of infections by improving hand hygiene compliance.
In any given setting, the number of patients or residents will be known, as will the number of members of staff and visitors. Although these may fluctuate during the day there will rarely be massive peaks or troughs. From this – bearing in mind when hand disinfection is recommended – it should be possible to estimate the total number of times that hand hygiene should be needed on average during any given period (day, week, month etc).
This information can be compared with hand hygiene product usage to assess how well everyone is complying with recommended procedures. Until recently the amount of product consumed was the only practical way to do this. Dispensers will dispense a reasonably consistent amount during each activation so it is possible to estimate the number of uses by dividing this amount into the total volume used.
The latest generation of dispensers – such as Diverseys’s IntelliCare system – take some of the guesswork from this because they maintain an accurate count of total activations.
However the estimates are made the issue is not necessarily to collect an accurate count for any given period but to look for trends, peaks and troughs. A trend showing rising use would suggest that facility users are cleaning their hands more frequently. The opposite of course is also true and a falling trend can be one of the first signs of non-compliance. Those responsible for infection prevention can use this information to respond with additional training or awareness programmes to promote better and more consistent hand hygiene.
Peaks and troughs that fall outside long-term averages can be caused by a number of factors, including special circumstances, equipment failure or some other interruption to product availability. While these causes are more likely to be apparent to those on the ground they could also indicate an underlying systemic problem such as poor equipment design, maintenance and reliability issues, or inefficient product checks and refills. In each case, the information collected by the dispenser can be a useful metric when trying to indentify the cause and suitable remedy.
Diversey’s IntelliCare system goes further because its Internet of Clean capabilities allow managers to collect and collate information from all connected dispensers. They can use this information to compare the performnance of each unit with others in similar locations or the average of the installed base to identify various patterns and averages.