Tuesday, June 8, 2010

To Wash or Not to Wash....

Recently, I enjoyed a spirited conversation with Hill-Rom’s GM and Vice President, Mike Gallup. Mike is a former IBM consultant who has been tasked with creating an unstoppable force in the Hill-Rom HITS (Healthcare Information Technology Systems) Group. His goal is to systematically coordinate the design of applications, creation of partnerships, and integration of collaborative initiatives that will strategically confront the marketplace status quo.  He was gracious to share his thoughts and a new project that they are going to be launching soon.

Hill-Rom as written and developed a patent on hand washing that should cause the industry to sit up and take notice. Hospital infections are costly and many are preventable. Those two items are ear perking to people who focus on providing value to a hospital. Not to mention the pain and discomfort that they cause a patient, and potential additional infections throughout the hospital. The ability to decrease infection by a simple hand washing or sanitization is crucial. To put dollars to the thought, according to Hill-Rom MRSA infections can cost in excess of $200,000.

Hill-Rom approached the marketplace trying to identify a strategic partnership with an RTLS provider that could meet the system and software requirements developed in the patent. After much research they decided on Centrak. Centrak’s ability to get granular in the patient room allows for the proximity of the caregiver to the dispenser to be identified. It also detects the actual motion and interaction with the cleaner.

Sound a little like Star Trek? It’s not.

The concept is actually quite simple, but software and application is really brilliant. The motion sensor within the Centrak tag notices movement of the dispenser when it is touhed and the badges correlate the proximity of the caregiver. To “fool” it you would actually have to have a caregiver bump the dispenser on purpose and not clean their hands. This would seem to be a farfetched idea. I am not an expert on hand washing, by any means, but I would assume that a majority of the time that a caregiver didn’t wash their hands prior to interacting with a patient would be more out of forgetting, and not intentionally avoiding.

I see this as a brilliant tool. Since it’s a standalone system it could be tied into a number of different integration points to track the effectiveness, but also offer some proactive notifications to the caregiver or manager. While the application is not prime time at a facility today the system has made it through all of the Hill-Rom and Centrak’s internal testing. Mike’s projection is to have it live within the next three month.

Thanks again to Mike Gallup – www.hillrom.com I look forward to more spirited interactions about healthcare in the future.

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