It’s easy to explain to health care workers the link between handwashing and patient infection rates. It’s much more difficult to make sure they lather up, rinse, and dry their hands multiple times daily.
Recognizing this, a Michigan company has developed a product to promote handwashing. The system monitors hospital employees’ compliance with handwashing requirements via sensors on soap and sanitizing gel dispensers that interact with the workers’ identification badges.
“This isn’t about scolding, or firing, or singling people out. This is about changing behavior and getting the whole system to work better,” says Henry Tenarvitz, chief intellectual property officer at Versus Technology. The Traverse City company’s Advantages Hand Hygiene product is being piloted at four hospitals nationwide.
Advantages can be deployed as a standalone system or interfaced to a hospital’s real-time locating system, which tracks health care workers’ whereabouts in the building. Versus provides hospital employees with an identification badge containing a transmitter. By hitting the paddle on a soap or sanitizing gel dispenser, a worker activates a sensor on the dispenser, which then records the ID badge in front of it using infrared and radio-frequency identification signals.
The sensor sends a message back to the hospital’s tracking system or Advantages standalone software saying that, for example, Dr. Smith washed her hands at the sink outside room 212. The system then monitors Dr. Smith’s movements to ensure she immediately steps into that room.
Either Versus or the hospital can program business rules into Advantages, including the amount of time allotted for moving from the soap dispenser to the task at hand, explains Tenarvitz. For example, the product could be set up to allow for a 15-second time frame for moving from a sink or dispenser outside a patient’s room into that room or a 45-second time frame for handwashing stations located farther away. A business rule could also stipulate that if doctors wash their hands and then walk to the nurses’ station, they have to wash their hands again before entering a patient’s room.
The hospital can generate reports that show how much soap or gel is being used on each floor compared to the number of staff assigned to that floor. It can also produce periodic detailed reports on compliance by a specific unit or worker to show trends in handwashing.
Versus can retrofit a hospital’s soap and gel dispensers with the sensors that provide a limited set of this information, says Tenarvitz. For a higher level of functionality, the facility must purchase integrated touchless dispensers from GOJO Industries. GOJO markets Purell hand sani-tizer to the health care marketplace and partnered with Versus to provide this functionality.
Among the institutions testing Advantages is the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, which is conducting a pilot study of what Tenarvitz calls the “Cadillac version” of the product. The university uses speakers in the ceiling to sound a pleasant chime when health care providers wash their hands. The speakers announce, “Please wash your hands,” every five seconds if a staff member enters a patient room without first stopping at a handwashing station.
“We are thrilled with it,” says David Birnbach, MD, MPH, professor of anesthesiology and public health at the University of Miami. Dr. Birn-bach, who is leading the pilot study, hopes to start integrating Advantages hospitalwide this summer. Right now the hospital has about 100 doctors, nurses, and medical students testing the system, he says.
The university will use the technology in areas where health care workers come into direct contact with patients, including the operating room. Ultimately, we would like the ID badges to provide employees with some form of discreet feedback if they fail to wash their hands, Dr. Birnbach adds.
Versus is marketing Advantages for a base price of about $150 per bed, but the cost can go up to several hundred dollars per bed, depending on the features purchased.
The Rock River Valley Blood Center, Rockford, Ill., has enhanced its Web site to allow blood donors to complete part of their required donor history on a personal computer before arriving at one of its donation centers or blood drives.
Blood donors can complete an online questionnaire, print an anonymous bar-coded receipt, and present the receipt when checking in to donate.
The questionnaire must be completed the day of the donor’s scheduled appointment. Donors have the option of completing the questionnaire at the blood collection center.
Mediware Information Systems recently launched KnowledgeTrak, software to help health care managers oversee employee training re-quirements. The system, which is integrated with Mediware’s Life-Trak blood management software, delivers and documents training offerings, tracks compliance, and assesses competencies.
“Through the acquisition of KnowledgeForge [the Denver-based developer of KnowledgeTrak], we have a comprehensive library of e-learning content as well as a proven delivery system that will be a valuable addition to our blood management business,” says Thomas Mann, president and CEO of Medi-ware.
KnowledgeTrak uses a proprietary Compliance & Learning Management System designed specifically to ensure that medical staff at blood centers and hospital-based blood banks comply with training goals and regulatory requirements. Courseware from KnowledgeTrak’s K-Book compliance library is available in a standard format or can be tailored to incorporate a customer’s standard operating procedures, images, and edits. KnowledgeTrak also provides training development tools and can create custom content for any e-learning platform.
Data Innovations has released Instrument Manager version 8.10. This latest version incorporates moving averages and enhancements to func-tionality for user security, maintenance, cell counting, and specimen storage and retrieval.
Using the new moving averages feature, laboratorians can continuously monitor the performance of their analyzers in real time using patient specimens to calculate moving averages. Laboratorians can also use one or more Levey-Jennings–style charts to monitor multiple instruments in real time from anywhere on the network. Users can define the actions that should occur automatically when specified thresholds are crossed.
The redesigned user-security feature on IM v8.10 allows decisionmakers to assign users to groups and provides the option of assigning per-missions to the group rather than to individual users.
It also offers three authentication methods: the Active Directory using the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, the operating system, or the Instrument Manager application.
Details about additional enhancements to IM v8.10 are listed on Data Innovations’ customer Web portal.
CAP TODAY featured in its April 2010 issue a laboratory-provider links software product guide. Following are two more companies that offer such products.
• Psyche Systems’ Web-based e.Outreach solution connects laboratories to physician office electronic medical record systems through a single lab information system connection. The product can also be used for order entry and reporting by providers that do not have an EMR or practice management system.
E.Outreach offers such features as Medicare compliance checking, a client-specific testing menu, advanced beneficiary notice form generation for Medicare, ask-at-order questions, stand-ing orders, a test compendium/ catalog for specimen handling and test information, as well as bar-coded requisition form generation.
• Azalea Health Innovations’ LabHub is a Web-based ordering and resulting system for medical laboratories.
Product features include full-color PDF results and orders with labels, an automated HIPAA faxing module and detailed HIPAA reports, full access to lab specimen requirements, medical necessity checking and advanced beneficiary notice form generation, cumulative reports, and smart auto-generated pick lists for test codes and diagnosis codes.
Atlas Medical Software has announced that it will install its complete OuterWare solution, which includes LabWorks, LabEMR, and LabNetWorks, at Med Fusion, LLC. Med Fusion is a new Dallas-based company that offers advanced laboratory and clinical trial services to northern Texas.
Siemens Healthcare has contracted to install its Soarian hospital information system at Norfolk, Neb.-based Faith Regional Health Services, an acute care medical center with multiple locations.
Dr. Aller practices clinical informatics in Southern California. He can be reached at email@example.com. Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.