Hand hygiene is one of the most important steps that can be taken to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.
Especially in a healthcare setting, it is the first line of defense when interacting with patients.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) physicians, nurses and IT specialists understand this all too well, having recently collaborated on an iOS app that more efficiently documents and reports hand-hygiene compliance.
Individuals monitoring clinical areas can now send electronically recorded observations directly to a database for immediate processing.
In 2003, VUMC started a campaign to encourage and increase hand washing. At the time, compliance was only at 58%. Leaders in the organization wanted to find ways to increase compliance. This resulted in the VUMC Hand Hygiene Committee, a team of physicians and nurses working together to tackle the issue. They began exploring alternatives for data collection and began a collaboration with the Department of Anesthesiology’s Perioperative Informatics group.
“This process started as hand-written observations that required transcription into a database,” said Medical Director of Perioperative Informatics Brian Rothman, M.D. From those beginnings, a bottleneck soon appeared. Because the information had to be manually entered into a database before it could be analyzed, the system created delays in reporting of compliance.
The mobile app, combined with the proper observation protocol, has made the overall process more efficient and accurate. Since implementation, compliance has risen to 91%. Dr. Rothman concurs. “We now have real-time, discrete entry of data that, once uploaded, is available for reporting purposes in a more timely manner.”
In fact, the increase in compliance is having a positive impact on patient outcomes.
“Great appreciation and recognition goes out to the entire VUMC community for the hard work put forth on improving hand hygiene,” said VUMC Chief Hospital Epidemiologist Thomas Talbot, M.D., M.P.H. “We are clearly seeing an impact of these efforts with a comprehensive reduction in healthcare-associated infections in our patients. With innovations like the application created by this team, the VUMC program continues to be one of the ground-breaking hand hygiene improvement programs in the country.”