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BADGE SYSTEMS VS. ELECTRONIC MONITORING

Martyn Hodgkinson
July 03, 2018

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MP’s highlight limitations of badge-based systems – paving the way for group monitoring to help deliver a safer NHS

 

In a recent Westminster debate, calls for improvements in hand hygiene compliance within the Healthcare sector have been made by a compelling body of stakeholders, gatekeepers and influencers alike – with many specifically calling for greater reliance on electronic monitoring to help inform and embed cultural behaviour change.

 

The Westminster Hall debate (‘Raising standards of infection prevention and control in the NHS’, 15 May 2018)[1] has increased awareness of the issues at a parliamentary level. It demonstrated a consensus across all political parties that direct observation is flawed as a means of monitoring hand hygiene compliance, whilst technology offers a way of improving compliance and reducing infection.

 

One clear message that surfaced from the debate was the use of current badge systems. Steven Barclay, Minister of State for the Department of Health and Social Care, recognised badge-based systems as being reliant on existing technology, with many hospital IT systems unable to support it. He also acknowledged the potential of electronic group monitoring systems to reduce infection rates and save money.

 

While the Government has recognised the need for a change, current badge systems are still being used in some hospitals. Here are the top three reasons that Trusts should switch to group monitoring systems.

 

Read more from the debate

 

Reason 1 – Individual vs. group behaviour

 

Electronic badges or bracelets are attached to patients, staff and equipment. A badge system assumes that if a member of staff is within reach or next to a hand hygiene dispenser, they will use the dispenser, but this is not always the case, therefore inaccurate levels of hand hygiene data are captured.

 

Electronic group monitoring systems provide anonymous feedback on each and every hand hygiene event. They help foster team commitment to hand hygiene compliance, without the big brother element often associated with badge systems.

 

Reason 2 – Badge systems can hinder positive behaviour change

 

Much like direct observation methods, badge systems rely on individual monitoring which can be intrusive for staff, causing them to change their behaviour whilst being monitored, and not necessarily performing hand hygiene at the right time. In turn, this leads to poor hand hygiene and inaccurate tracking of moments.

 

Group monitoring can deliver real-time, accurate data to drive behavioural change. One of the key benefits of using a group monitoring system is the data which can provide real-time compliance data on 5-Moments hand hygiene compliance. It also supports communication and data-driven feedback with team members to help empower behaviour change.

 

Reason 3 – It doesn’t track all hand hygiene events in line with the WHO 5-Moments

 

Badge systems do not track all events in line with the WHO 5-Moments of Hand Hygiene, they simply capture the usage of hand hygiene dispensers at the entry and exit points of patient care. Unfortunately, this does not paint a true picture of hand hygiene events or that staff are cleaning their hands correctly.

 

A typical individual badge system works as follows: If a worker performs hand hygiene twice while in the vicinity of a patient, they get a score of 100. If they do it just once, they get a score of 50. However, this point system is inaccurate as there is no guarantee that the worker has performed a hand hygiene event at the appropriate time.

 

Electronic group monitoring systems have been shown to increase WHO 5-Moments of Hand Hygiene compliance rates by a quarter, whilst decreasing hospital onset MRSA by 42%[2].

 

The adoption of electronic group monitoring systems based on the WHO 5-Moments of Hand Hygiene can deliver significant improvements in terms of hand hygiene compliance, helping embed good practice into everyday working lives. These systems have been shown to increase WHO 5-Moments of Hand Hygiene compliance rates by a quarter, whilst decreasing hospital onset MRSA by 42%[3].

 

Paving the way for a safer NHS

 

Advances in technology can be applied to hand hygiene monitoring, helping Healthcare adopt more reliable and accurate data collection and analysis methods to drive hand hygiene compliance in real-time.

 

Technology, if adopted in the right way, creates an opportunity to improve patient safety and reduce the £1bn cost associated with healthcare associated infections. Now is the time to work with the Government to ensure more hospitals are aware of the benefits of using electronic monitoring systems, which in turn, will pave the way for a safer NHS.

 

 

 

 

[1] https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-05-15/debates/395F355A-2F8A-4175-8408-D9AB8B2AA67C/InfectionPreventionAndControl

[2] Kelly J, Blackhurst D, McAtee W, Steed C. Electronic hand hygiene monitoring as a tool for reducing healthcare-associated methicillin-resistant Staphy­lococcus aureus infection. Am J Infect Control 2016;44:956-7.

[3] Kelly J, Blackhurst D, McAtee W, Steed C. Electronic hand hygiene monitoring as a tool for reducing healthcare-associated methicillin-resistant Staphy­lococcus aureus infection. Am J Infect Control 2016;44:956-7.

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