Research is vital to change and transformation. Through research healthcare professionals can confirm assumptions, redefine perceptions, forge strategies and manage risk and performance. Research also dictates the direction of infection prevention and control. A steady flow of hand hygiene research, for example, improves hand hygiene compliance and reduces healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Healthcare professionals can take pride in the research-focused hand hygiene headlines that surfaced in 2016:
- High hand hygiene compliance yields lower HAIs, savings totaling $5M
- Doctors hand hygiene compliance plummets unless they know they’re being watched, study suggests
- Study shows electronic monitoring of hand hygiene lowers MRSA rates
- Pictures of bacteria boost hand hygiene among hospital, study finds
- Study finds more is better when it comes to hand hygiene
Hand hygiene research is also alive and well with programs like the Prevention Epicenters Program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (http://www.cdc.gov). The program involves collaboration between the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion and 12 academic entities, including the University of Illinois, University of Chicago, Emory University, University of Pennsylvania, and Washington University.
Hand hygiene research is already under way at the following sites:
- The University of Maryland, Baltimore Epicenter will determine “if washing gloved hands with alcohol-based hand rub is as effective as changing gloves.”
- The University of Iowa Carver School of Medicine will learn if Ebola preparedness improves compliance with hand hygiene and other infection prevention and control guidelines. It will also discover if applying Provodine to the hands protects against self-contamination when healthcare workers remove personal protective equipment (PPE). .
- The Johns Hopkins Prevention Epicenter will estimate the probability of transmission based on compliance with hand hygiene and infection control and prevention guidelines. It will also pinpoint risk factors for self-contamination during removal of PPE.
- The Prevention Center of Emory and Atlanta Consortium Hospitals will examine if hand hygiene compliance improves through the following:
- Sensors that detect hand hygiene product use and movement toward a patient’s bed
- Real-time voice reminders
- Individualized hand hygiene compliance feedback
Hand hygiene research is a journey, not a destination. Academic medical centers, hospitals, health systems, government, payers, think tanks and foundations must join forces to find answers to research questions involving hand hygiene compliance. Among the issues includes:
Social determinants: How important is hand hygiene as a social determinant of health? How does it compare with other social determinants?
Population health: How does vigorous hand hygiene compliance improve care outcomes and the health and well-being of populations?
Value-based care: How does hand hygiene compliance contribute to the delivery of value- based, accountable care?
Patient engagement: How can healthcare organizations engage patients and consumers in their own health through promotion of hand hygiene compliance?
Patient experience: How does hand hygiene compliance contribute to the healthcare experience of consumers, patients and providers?
Technology: Which new and emerging technologies are likely to enhance hand hygiene compliance?
Collaboration: How should providers, payers, government and communities contribute to improved hand hygiene compliance?
HAI Prevention/Control: How does hand hygiene work in combination with other HAI prevention and control strategies, guidelines and tools?
The infection prevention hand hygiene library of the American Journal of Infection Control reveals the depth, breadth and significance of hand hygiene research and thought leadership. Healthcare professionals can shape infection prevention control and research and innovation in the following ways:
Champion hand hygiene research: Conduct small research studies within individual units and departments, reporting results at regularly scheduled meetings.
Be part of research studies. Accept invitations from hand hygiene compliance suppliers like DebMed and academic entities to participate in hand hygiene compliance research.
Monitor hand hygiene research findings: Review hand hygiene-related studies in journals like the American Journal of Infection Control, Journal of Infection Prevention, Journal of Hospital Infection and Journal of Patient Safety and Infection Control.
Track hand hygiene surveys: Not all research shows up in academic journals. Review the results of surveys conducted by suppliers like DebMed or assessments from groups like the World Health Organization (WHO).
Use research to drive change. Among the issues hand hygiene professionals should discuss: What does the research say and mean? How should professionals use and respond to the research—both now and in the long-term future?