Fukui University has been collaborating with CARECOM, an IoT solution provider for healthcare facilities, to ensure medical workers comply with guidelines for hand hygiene. Using CARECOM’s 3HS-AI monitoring system, sensors attached to hand sanitizer bottles that nurses carry transmit a Bluetooth® signal to locaters and Bluetooth receivers every 0.2 seconds. When the bottle is pumped, the pumping is detected by stopping the transmission, which informs the supervisor whether the nurses sanitized their hands at the proper time and where they did so.

Recently, I had a chance to talk with SMILE Unit Director Yuji Sakamoto from CARECOM, and he explained how their latest Bluetooth enabled solution enhances disinfection management in medical facilities.

Q&A with Yuji Sakamoto

Could you talk more about this solution and the impact it can have on healthcare facilities and patients?

Hand hygiene is a standard precaution, and it is required to prevent nosocomial infections. The proper introduction of hand-hygiene monitoring systems can increase the chances of developing strong hand sanitizing habits in a hospital or healthcare facility and contribute to the prevention of nosocomial infections.

The solution automatically monitors three moments of My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene, which is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the key moments when healthcare workers should perform hand hygiene. The three moments include: before touching a patient, after touching a patient, and after touching patient surroundings. The sensor devices transmit signals notifying the location information of each healthcare worker or the pumping of each hand-sanitizer spray. Consequently, this hand-hygiene monitoring system visualizes who used hand sanitizer and when and where they did so.

How long has this solution been in place?

Demonstration experiments have been carried out for approximately the last three years, and the solution was launched in the summer of 2019.

Are there any hospitals or organizations, in addition to the University of Fukui Hospital, to use this solution?

Nagoya University Hospital is also using this solution. Also, we are currently providing the solution to five other hospitals for a limited time. We are also looking to introduce the solution into advanced acute-care environments, including ICU.

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Have hospitals using CARECOM’s monitoring system seen results?

According to the University of Fukui Hospital, the number of times healthcare professionals sanitized their hands while attending to patients increased by more than 300%. Also, based on an experiment conducted at the Nagoya University Hospital, the total amount of hand sanitizer nurses used increased by 40%. The solution is useful because hand hygiene is monitored automatically without any need for medical staff to interrupt their daily tasks.

How does Bluetooth technology contribute to your hand hygiene monitoring solution?

Bluetooth technology is utilized for positioning medical staff and detecting the use of hand sanitizer. Sensors are placed on hand-sanitizer sprays and carried by medical staff who don’t have the sprays with them. The sensor devices transmit the Bluetooth radio signal at all times. Locators using angle-of-arrival (AoA) technology receive the signal and enable high-precision positioning, from which supervisors can tell whether medical staff goes in or out of patients’ rooms. The sensor on the spray further detects pumping, whether it is carried by a nurse or it is a non-portable one, which indicates hand hygiene is performed. When a healthcare worker uses a spray set on a specific spot, the monitoring system identifies them from their location information. The combination of data received makes it possible to automatically monitor hand-hygiene status before and after medical staff are in patients’ rooms.

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