Vibrating bracelet tells doctors if they're suitably scrubbed

Millions of people get infections from their hospital visits. And Medicare has stopped reimbursing hospitals for expenses related to treating hospital-acquired infections.

IntelligentM has designed a new wristband that vibrates when the wearer has scrubbed sufficiently, giving employees a way to check their habits. Technology Review reports.

Some 100,000 people die each year in the U.S. from infections acquired from hospital visits, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A lot of these occur because doctors, nurses, and technicians aren’t washing well enough.

The problem has garnered more attention lately, in part because Medicare and other payers have stopped reimbursing hospitals for expenses related to treating hospital-acquired infections.

Compliance is currently monitored by "secret" observers throughout hospitals. But this is expensive, labor intensive, and usually happens only during the day.

  • IntelligentM’s wristband reads RFID tags that are on hand-washing and sanitizing stations (like cars driving through tollbooths).
  • An accelerometer detects how long workers spends washing -- buzzing once if it’s done correctly and three times if it’s not.
  • RFID tags are also placed outside patients’ rooms and on certain equipment to alert workers before procedures that have a higher risk of infection, such as inserting a catheter.
  • Data are collected through a microUSB connection at the end of each shift, allowing hospital staff to see how employees are doing.

Watch a video of how IntelligentM works.

Other systems of monitoring hand washing include a cloud-based network of wristbands and sensor-equipped faucet, soap, and sanitizer dispensers by Hyginex. And BioVigil is developing a chemical-sensing monitor that detects soap and alcohol-based sanitizers on workers’ hands.

The challenge, though, is to develop a cost-effective system that’s suited to the pace of clinical work and isn’t too complex to set-up or use.

A hospital in Sarasota, Florida, began using the IntelligentM system in December 2012.

[Technology Review]

Image: IntelligentM

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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