Hand washing is one of the most important daily routines to avoid the spreading of bacteria and disease, especially in hospitals and healthcare centers. For environments where infections and disease are ever-present, it's vital to protect those who are ill from potential risks that may cause additional complications.
Clean Hands - Safe Hands (CHSH) is a non-intrusive wireless technology designed to help hospitals improve hand hygiene performance. The Bluetooth-enabled sanitizer and soap system alerts caregivers when they forget to sanitize their hands.
The Challenge: High Risk of Infection
With over 50 million medical procedures carried out per year in the US, hospitals are at a high risk of spreading diseases and infections. According to the CDC, in 2015 there were 687,000 hospital-acquired infections, almost 10% of which ended with the death of a patient.
CHSH saw an opportunity to decrease the frequency and overall impact caused by this deadly problem. Through a collaboration with Emory Healthcare, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and the CDC, CEO Chris Hermann, MD, PhD, and his team developed technology that allows hospitals to gain insights into staff's sanitizing habits as they enter patients' rooms.
For an efficient and accurate process, Clean Hands – Safe Hands needed wireless communication to seamlessly occur in the background as a nurse or doctor passes by or uses the sanitizing stations. CHSH also saw the need for the dispensers to communicate with one another, so professionals weren't alerted unnecessarily, which could affect staff acceptance for the system and inaccurate data.
The unobtrusive CHSH Badge Reel communicates via Bluetooth to the CHSH Sensors connected to the existing hand hygiene product dispensers. The sensors are also equipped with Digi's XBee® Gateway with ZigBee® technology. The XBee Gateway enables the sensors to create a mesh network, so each dispenser sensor is aware of the data collected by another. This avoids unnecessary reminders for professionals who just used another dispenser in a nearby location. The XBee Gateway comes with integration to Digi Remote Manager, so data is passed to the cloud automatically, where it's collected, stored and sent to an application for further use.
"The hardware has been fantastic to work with, and really sets our technology apart in this space," said Hermann.
The sensors uniquely identify each employee and record hand hygiene events throughout the health system. As staff members enter or exit rooms, they have a specific amount of time to sanitize.
The CHSH sensors are mounted to dispensers equipped with soap and alcohol. When needed, the sensor provides a subtle voice reminder to staff and records the use of the dispenser.
Using a unique identifier for each employee, the CHSH Badge Reels, each of which has a battery that lasts about a year, communicates with the sensors to determine performance at an individual staff level.
Many CHSH installations have been implemented in health systems across the United States. By utilizing partners such as Emory Healthcare and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, CHSH was built in the environment it needs to thrive . "Without the help of the clinicians at Emory and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, this innovation wouldn't have been possible."
Hermann credits the ability to implement CHSH on a large scale to the ease of implementation. "The Digi hardware allows us to install the technology in a hospital without disrupting any of their infrastructures. Not only does this make the installation process very simple, but it is a major advantage over other competitors that typically require extensive modification to the hospitals' IT infrastructure. It literally was a 15-minute discussion with IT to get us approved and live in one of the hospitals."
"Digi gives us a real competitive advantage. We created CHSH to improve patient safety, and we are excited to aid in that prevention with wireless technology."