Wristband monitors hand washing in health care

The startup IntelligentM wants to make hospitals healthier by encouraging workers to clean their hands properly, reports Technology Review. Its solution is an RFID-reading, motion-sensing wristband which buzzes to let health-care working know if they wash their hands properly.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that some 100,000 people a year in the United States alone die because of infections that arise from hospital visits. A lot of these infections occur because doctors, nurses, and technicians don’t wash their hands well enough. The problem has garnered more attention lately, in part because hospitals are no longer reimbursed for expenses related to treating hospital-acquired infections. IntelligentM is just one of many companies trying to address this problem with technology; other solutions include dispensers that measure the amount of liquid used, chemical sensors that sniff out the presence of soap or sanitizer, and RFID-based systems that know the location of each cleaning station and whether a hospital worker has been there. IntelligentM’s wristband reads RFID tags on hand-washing and sanitizing stations. An accelerometer can detect how long an employee spends washing; the wristband buzzes once if it’s done correctly and three times if it’s not. ‘Over the last two years, we have developed a technology that allows us to alert health-care workers on the spot if they aren’t washing or sanitizing according to the [Centers for Disease Control] specifications,’ says IntelligentM president Seth Freedman. Because RFID tags are also placed outside patients’ rooms and on some equipment, Freedman says, the system alerts health-care workers to clean their hands before doing a procedure that carries a high infection risk, such as inserting a catheter. It also collects data from the bracelets through a micro USB connection at the end of each shift, which gives hospital epidemiologists a chance to see how each employee is doing. Read more