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Hospital's Hand-Hygiene Rate Doubles With RTLS Technology

Marin General Hospital has raised its compliance rate from 45 percent to 77 percent via an RFID solution from SwipeSense, and is now using the same technology to track assets.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 03, 2019

Marin General Hospital has deployed a real-time location system (RTLS) to boost the hand-hygiene rate among its 1,800 health-care workers and physicians. Since the system was taken live, the facility's hand-hygiene compliance has increased, on average, from 45 percent to 77 percent. The hospital has achieved a reduction in the rate of infections since the system was installed, and while it can't necessarily correlate those results with the technology itself, that reduction in infections rates was the facility's goal. The active RFID system was provided by health-care technology company SwipeSense.

Hand hygiene, however, was just the start for the hospital, located in Greenbrae, Calif. The facility is also using the technology for asset tracking, to ensure staff members can easily access equipment as it's needed, says Mark Zielazinski, the hospital's chief information and technology integration officer. In fact, SwipeSense recently released its platform, known as Asset Tracking, for the health-care market.

Marin General Hospital
Marin General Hospital was initially targeting ways to reduce infection rates by increasing how often health-care practitioners washed their hands. "We, like many health-care organizations, have been struggling with hand-hygiene rates," Zielazinski says. Through manually administered surveys, the facility found that workers demonstrated a 43 percent compliance rate, which is similar to the results at many hospitals without any form of automated hand-hygiene tracking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), across the United States, on average, health-care providers clean their hands less than half as often as they should.

So about two years ago, Marin General Hospital investigated two technology-based solutions. It selected SwipeSense, Zielazinski says, because its system could operate with any hand-hygiene products (other solutions are offered by dispenser and product makers, and are thus proprietary to those products), and it liked the company's approach. "They seemed to be a young company with a bright future and a lot of ideas," he states.

SwipeSense was launched in 2012, based on Northwestern University research regarding hand-hygiene technology. Its system uses badges transmitting at 2.4 GHz to receivers, which forward data to Wi-Fi- or Ethernet-enabled gateways. During system design and development, SwipeSense considered a variety of technologies, including Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Zigbee and Dynastream Innovations' ANT protocol, according to Yuri Malina, SwipeSense's cofounder and product VP. "None were designed with the constraints of low-power and high sensor density required by hospital RTLS applications," Malina says.

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