iPhone app makes tracking hand hygiene compliance easier

Residency Program Insider, September 28, 2010

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For those of you with iPhones in the medical setting, a new app will streamline hand hygiene compliance tracking.

The appropriately named iScrub app, developed at the University of Iowa (UI), aims to replace the traditional method of pencil and paper tracking, providing more accurate data and a less time-consuming collection process.

The iScrub app was released on May 5 in collaboration with the CDC, and coinciding with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene campaign.

The idea originated at UI when medical professors at the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine teamed up with developers in the Computational Epidemiology group in the UI Department of Computer Science. Chris Hlady, a doctoral student in computer science, built the first version of iScrub (iScrub Lite) and has gained traction with the product as two more doctoral students, Donald Curtis and Jason Fries, have expanded the platform to iScrub Pro, currently in pilot deployment.

“I think hospitals have been tracking this compliance for a while,” Curtis says. “I think it was the idea that we have been given this device, and we have a way for replacing clipboards and pencils and transcription, so why not do it?” he says.

The plus side is that medical facilities won’t need to purchase hundreds of mobile devices to effectively use the app.

“The idea is you have a couple of these devices in the hospital, and they are used to track the hand hygiene,” Curtis says. “It’s designed so you don’t have to buy one for everyone.”

In addition to making the cumbersome process of hand hygiene data collection more efficient, the iScrub app also allows a streamlined approach to hand hygiene compliance. Although most hospitals constantly track compliance, the methods used to monitor adherence can vary significantly from facility to facility. The iScrub app ensures that each hospital uses the same measures and definitions.

This article is an excerpt from an article in HCPro Inc.'s Briefings on Infection Control.

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