Small device, big effect: The Asklepios hospital in Hamburg, Germany has introduced the HyHelp System to increase the number of hand disinfections. In addition to training staff and measuring the amount of disinfectant used, as routinely carried out in the hospital, doctors and nurses now wear a small mobile device attached to their clothing. This device automatically detects when the hand disinfectant has been used and gives immediate positive feedback to the healthcare worker in the form of a green light. At the touch of a button, an integrated counter shows the total number of times the hand disinfectant is taken, so that at end of the day each team member knows how often they have disinfected their hands. The device also reminds staff to disinfect their hands. Each ward can select its own criteria. For example, alerts can be set before and after contact with patients. The mobile device can also be set to emit a signal when a staff member leaves the patient environment so then the green LED, which is lit when at the patient's bedside or in a sterile workplace, goes out. Additionally, the number of individual disinfections per hour can be measured. The staff can be reminded to disinfect their hands by means of a warning light or a vibration alert.
"A key factor in gaining acceptance among staff members is the fact that the technology does not permit central monitoring of the individuals," says Dr. Susanne Wenner-Ziegler, hospital hygienist and medical specialist in microbiology and infection epidemiology. Each individual knows his or her own disinfection rate and also the average rate for the ward, but no one else, not even their supervisor, can view individual values. "We are convinced that a sustainable increase can only be achieved through a high degree of self-motivation on the part of nurses and doctors. A controlled approach would be counterproductive here," says Wenner-Ziegler.