Cinco de Mayo and Clean Your Hands Day

Posted on May 5, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It seems that everyone knows that today is Cinco de Mayo, but did you also know that today is Save Lives: Clean Your Hands Day named by the World Health Organization (WHO)? DebMed has launched a page talking about the Clean Your Hands Day along with their Clean Hands for Health website.

Jason Anthony Tetro, a microbiologist known as “The Germ Guy,” if offering up these five facts about clean hands in healthcare:

  • More than 1.4 million people globally become seriously ill from healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) each year
  • Hand hygiene compliance in hospitals remains below 40%
  • At any time between 2 million and 10 million germs can be on your hands
  • Proper hand washing can prevent the spread of these germs
  • In hospitals, there are 5 Moments to know for clinicians to stop the spread of germs and deadly bacteria

When I hear about washing hands in healthcare, I’m reminded of a talk that Malcom Gladwell did a few years back at the Digital Health Conference. I wish I could have found the video of his talk online, but it seems like it’s not available. He covered a lot of the research and statistics of what really impacts hand washing in healthcare. As I recall, a picture on people’s desktops was the most impactful thing you can do to improve hand washing stats. Although, after his talk I can tell you that there was 100% hand washing compliance in the bathroom of the conference.

I was pointed to Clean Your Hands day by DebMed which has an obvious interest in hand washing giving their technology. Here’s a description of what they’re working on:

The DebMed GMS measures the hand hygiene compliance of physicians, nurses, therapists or other healthcare workers who come into contact with patients in hospitals and healthcare facilities. International patents are pending. The DebMed GMS is the world’s first and only electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring system that meets the WHO’s “Save Lives: Clean Your Hands” recommendation.

A patent for the system, that was granted on April 13, 2013, covers several core technologies that provide a reliable system for collecting dispenser usage data (how many times healthcare workers within a specific unit actually washed and/or sanitized their hands). The system also uses an evidence-based algorithm to pre-determine the expected number of times they should have washed and/or sanitized their hands (hand hygiene opportunities), thus enabling the calculation of a compliance rate for that specific unit in real-time by dividing the actual hand hygiene events (or the numerator) by the expected number of opportunities for hand hygiene (the denominator).

Maybe I should have titled this post, bringing healthcare analytics to hand washing. That’s basically what they’re doing. There’s no better way to improve a result than to track it. I wonder how long until they pipe the handwashing notifications into the EHR. That’s not a far fetched idea. It wouldn’t be that hard. Makes me wonder how many hundreds of other things could be incorporated into an EHR if they were open to it.