According to recent statistics, healthcare and patient safety deteriorated during the pandemic. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that after years of decrease, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in US hospitals increased significantly in 2020 – primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic (1).
The year 2020 was a turning point for hospitals, with many facing unprecedented obstacles such as rising patient hospitalizations, staffing challenges, and other operational changes that hampered the application and efficacy of traditional infection prevention policies.
The increased healthcare-associated infection rates correlate with an increase in sick patients who required equipment, such as ventilators and catheters, and those hospitalized for more extended periods. However, hospital resources most likely also played a role (1).
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) has recently responded to the special report by CDC by calling for increased funding to build more robust prevention programs.
“We can’t let the lessons learned from COVID-19 go to waste. Building stronger infection prevention programs throughout healthcare will not only improve our ability to protect the public during future pandemics but will simultaneously improve patient safety.”
– APIC 2022 President – Linda Dickey, RN, MPH, CIC, FAPIC
How can technology help?
Hand hygiene levels in hospitals play a crucial role in infection prevention and patient safety. During the COVID-19 pandemic, direct observation of hand hygiene behavior has been the gold-standard technique for assessing staff compliance. However, many healthcare institutions may collect hand hygiene data in the present climate because resources are often redirected to COVID-19 containment efforts.
In recent years, automated hand hygiene monitoring systems were developed to allow healthcare organizations to collect reliable hand hygiene data with minimum labor involvement.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated clinical infection prevention and control challenges (IPC) during times of crisis. Challenges that comprise patient and healthcare worker safety. There is a need to build strong and resilient IPC responses to reduce the pressure on healthcare resources. Digitalization is an essential part of building a sustainable healthcare system. A good example is automated hand hygiene monitoring recommended by WHO.”
– Dr. Marco Bo Hansen, Senior Medical Director at Sani Nudge
Sani Nudge is the first commercially available solution in Europe to measure compliance before and after patient contact in single- and multi-bed patient rooms (2,3). The system measures hand hygiene according to the WHOs guidelines (moments 1, 4, and 5) and can be adapted to local hand hygiene guidelines when needed (2-4).
More importantly, Sani Nudge is the only solution that offers effective improvement and engagement tools based on nudging theory and behavioral science, ensuring sustained hand hygiene performance and reducing hospital-acquired infections (5).
Digital solutions like Sani Nudge have great potential to build resilient infection prevention programs. However, we can improve patient safety globally and better prepare for future pandemics by joining efforts with other like-minded companies and organizations.
- Fleisher LA, Schreiber M, Cardo D, Srinivasan A. Health Care Safety during the Pandemic and Beyond – Building a System That Ensures Resilience. N Engl J Med. 2022;386(7):609-611. doi:10.1056/NEJMp2118285
- Iversen AM, Kavalaris CP, Hansen R, et al. Clinical experiences with a new system for automated hand hygiene monitoring: A prospective observational study. Am J Infect Control. 2020 May;48(5):527-533.
- Hansen MB, Wismath N, Fritz E, Heininger A. Assessing the clinical accuracy of a hand hygiene system: Learnings from a validation study. Am J Infect Control. 2021 Jan 13;S0196-6553(21)00006-7. Link
- Hansen MB. Automated hand hygiene monitoring increases the understanding of poor compliance behaviour. Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control. 2019, 8(Suppl 1):P407. Link
- Iversen AM, Stangerup M, From-Hansen M, et al. Light-guided nudging and data-driven performance feedback improve hand hygiene compliance among nurses and doctors. Am J Infect Control. 2020 Nov 10;49(6):733-739. Link