In hospitals, cleanliness isn’t just next to godliness, it’s also a matter of life or death. Up to a fifth of patient admissions pick up infections from their healthcare settings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These cases, which result in 900,000 deaths each year, exact an annual toll of $30 billion toll on the U.S. healthcare system. By and large, most hospital infections are preventable through frequent hand-washing, yet it’s the rare healthcare facility that can boast a hand-washing rate of more than 50 percent among its workers. An Israeli company known as Hyginex seeks to change those numbers with a wireless hand-hygiene-monitoring system that requires no management effort and minimal training.

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The Hyginex system comprises a cloud-based network of smart wristbands and sensor-equipped faucet, soap, and sanitizer dispensers. If you’re a doctor or nurse approaching a new patient, your presence will trigger a nearby sensor. The unit will then beam a wireless signal to the wristband, setting off an LED light and then a light vibration to remind you to wash your hands. Like a gimlet-eyed schoolmarm, the bracelet also monitors the quality of your hand-washing. Spend too little time rubbing your hands together, for instance, or use too little soap, and it’ll dispatch another friendly warning. This real-time feedback, according to Hyginex, helps staff improve their hand-washing compliance.

The Hyginex system comprises a cloud-based network of smart wristbands and sensor-equipped faucet, soap, and sanitizer dispensers.

All data from the wristband uploads to a central server for analysis. The system churns out detailed reports that breaks down user compliance according to hospital, division, department, and even worker by day, week, month, and year. The Hyginex user interface also doubles as an educational tool for healthcare staff, dispatching relevant tips tailored to each individual based on his or her hand-hygiene habits and progress.

“All the information is very visible to the staff,” Efrat Raichman, Hyginex’s founder and CEO, told Fast Co.Exist. “It’s a personal assistant for the staff. The doctors and nurses know they need to do this every time they’re treating a new patient, but they don’t always remember.”

Raichman may be onto something. A two-month trial in an intensive-care unit in Israel found that compliance rates rose from 25 percent to 44 percent after Hyginex introduced its system. A second trial revealed that staff members were using more soap and washing their hands for longer.

Hyginex is already in place at four Israeli hospitals, with three more in the pipeline. The company also plans to roll out its product in the United States and Europe.

+ Hyginex

[Via Fast Co.Design]