I’ll admit I’m a little partial to the Dutch. My father-in-law, now deceased, was a Dutchman. Hence we spend a lot of time in my family feeling a special bond with the Netherlands. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit Holland several times over the years to work with my Microsoft colleagues and meet with customers and partners there.
I’ve always been impressed with the Dutch healthcare system. Their good work usually tops lists of high quality national health systems ranked by organizations such as the World Health Organization. The facilities are clean and highly efficient. I also frequently observe extensive use of contemporary information communication technologies in the Netherlands. Such is the case for an innovative, yet surprisingly simple, Windows 8 app that has been developed to help monitor hygiene compliance in a local Dutch hospital.
In my world travels I’ve come across many ways to tackle the problem of hygiene compliance in hospitals. I’ve seen elaborate and very expensive solutions that make use of RFID technologies or other sensors in patient rooms and hand washing stations. Sensors recognize when or if staff are compliant with good hygiene practices and sound out alarms or send out reports when they’re not. However, even these solutions seldom track all the things that contribute to the spread of infection in hospital environments. For example, in Europe there are very strict standards that extend to how staff are dressed, the wearing of rings, watches, or jewelry and even the permissible length of fingernails. Infection prevention teams perform regular staff audits to monitor compliance, report out, and increase staff consciousness about personal hygiene. In the past this was done on paper. Now, however, teams are using slate tablet computers and a specially developed Windows 8 app to monitor staff, create reports and share their findings with hospital management, clinicians and employees.
The highly mobile and very intuitive Hygiene App makes it easy for infection control teams to perform their audits using small, light weight touch tablets such as those produced by Surface, Samsung or Asus. Users login with a personal code. A list of departments appears and the auditor selects the department under observation. With touch navigation the employee role being observed is logged. Any observed irregularities are recorded by auditors in the app. Photos may also be taken and added to the report. All data is ultimately presented in a special SharePoint portal where tallied results of organizational audits are presented in easily understood graphical formats. The visual capabilities of SharePoint make it very easy to drill down on data, and for example, see results of a single department or the entire hospital.
The Hygiene App was developed by Amphia Hospital and Microsoft partner Brain Force with input from Dr. Kluytmans, a leading microbiologist at Amphia. Some of the Hygiene app’s early reported advantages include an estimated time savings for departmental audits that have been reduced from 60 to just 5 minutes. The app provides instant, real time data about hygiene practices in the hospital and has been shown to significantly increase awareness of hygiene compliance and practices.
Like many other apps built for Windows 8 devices, this one came into being quite quickly. The entire development cycle was done in about 8 weeks. Amphia Hospital, with more than 4000 employees, is participating in the evaluation and first rollout of the solution. It will be interesting to follow some of the additional benefits that are likely to be realized from the use of this simple, yet elegant solution to audit and report hygiene practices in Dutch hospitals.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft