Technology wanted by patients

Despite the various methods introduced in hospitals to improve medical staff’s hand hygiene (HH) compliance, physicians HH efficiency remains suboptimal (19-31% vs. 63-81% at nurses). Several hospitals hands out information packet on HAIs to patients encouraging them the explicitly ask their physician to wash their hand before touching them, but the method seems to fail as patients don’t feel comfortable discussing HH with their physician.

An American study reveals the main reasons of this discomfort by interviewing 250 patient: they don’t want to seem disrespectful (33%), they feel embarrassed or awkward (31%), they don’t think it is the patient’s role (8%), they belief that physicians can be trusted to perform HH without reminders (4%).

The interviewed patients indicated that they would be far more comfortable discussing HH with their physician if the physician wore a button or light that indicated that he/she did not clean his/her hands. Additionally, 84% of patients thought that physicians should get reports on how often they clean their hands before touching patients.

This means that the existing barriers in patients to challenge their physician to perform HH can be overcome with technological prompts, which the study shows patients are very willing to accept. Speaking up could be augmented by novel technologies that accurately track and display physician compliance and facilitate communication between patients and physicians such as Hand-in-Scan.