Effect of electronic real-time prompting on hand hygiene behaviors in health care workers

Am J Infect Control. 2018 Jul;46(7):768-774. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2017.12.018. Epub 2018 Mar 2.


Background: Poor hand hygiene by health care workers is a major cause of nosocomial infections. This research evaluated the ability of an electronic monitoring system with real-time prompting capability to change hand hygiene behaviors.

Methods: Handwashing activity was measured by counting dispenser activations on a single nursing unit before, during, and after installation of the system. The effect of changing the prompt duration on hand hygiene performance was determined by a cluster-randomized trial on 3 nursing units with 1 acting as control. Sustainability of performance and participation was observed on 4 nursing units over a year. All staff were eligible to participate.

Results: Between June 2015 and December 2016, a total of 459,376 hand hygiene opportunities and 330,740 handwashing events from 511 staff members were recorded. Dispenser activation counts were significantly influenced by use of the system (χ2[3] = 75.76; P < .0001). Hand hygiene performance dropped from 62.61% to 24.94% (odds ratio, 0.36; 95% confidence interval, 0.34-0.38) when the prompting feature was removed. Staff participation had a negative trajectory of -0.72% (P < .001), whereas change in average performance was -0.18% (P < .001) per week for the year.

Conclusions: Use of electronic monitoring with real-time prompts of 20 seconds' duration nearly doubles handwashing activity and causes handwashing to occur sooner after entering a patient room. These improvements are sustainable over a year.

Keywords: Compliance; Electronic monitoring; Health care-acquired; Infection control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Electronics
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Hand Disinfection
  • Hand Hygiene*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Infection Control*