Given the importance of hand washing compliance, especially in healthcare, manufacturers are searching for solutions to help facility cleaning managers. New offerings include fixtures and dispensers that monitor users.

For example, a sink may have a blinking light that turns off after the appropriate length of wash time, or an alarm may go off if a nurse enters a patient’s room and doesn’t wash or sanitize their hands. Many of these systems can read a chip in the employee’s badge, which offers managers data on who is or isn’t complying with hand hygiene standards. Some facilities are using this data to reward and punish employees, even going so far as to terminate those who violate hygiene protocols.

In the end, Couch says boosting hand washing compliance rates is a matter of trial and error. It can take time to find the mix of education, products, and strategies that work best for a particular facility. Even then, expect to be disappointed, she warns.

“We haven’t found the one thing that’s the greatest thing since sliced bread to solve this problem,” Couch says. “You need awareness first and foremost, as well as ease and accessibility, but there are so many human variables worked into it that it can be difficult to master.” 

BECKY MOLLENKAMP is a freelance writer based in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Products That Improve Hand Washing Compliance