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How Ecolab uses tech to reduce healthcare-associated infections

As a manufacturer of soap, sanitizers, and the dispensers that hold them, Ecolab’s healthcare division has long been a proponent of hand hygiene. However, according to the company’s own data, healthcare workers are only practicing hand hygiene about 40-50 percent of the time. It quickly became clear their efforts weren’t enough to lower the instances of healthcare-associated infections (HAI). “75,000 people die each year from HAIs in the United States,” says Gail Peterson, Vice President of Global Marketing at Ecolab.

In an effort to reduce the number of HAIs, Ecolab developed a Compliance Monitoring System to help ensure healthcare personnel perform appropriate hand hygiene.

Ecolab’s commitment to healthier hospital environments

The Compliance Monitoring System consists of three pieces of hardware; a dispenser for soap or sanitizer, a bed kit placed under the patient’s bed or crib, and a badge that the employee wears. When an employee walks into a patient’s room, the bed kit acts like a beacon, creating a zone around the patient. Because it reacts with the soap dispenser, the bed kit knows if the employee has washed their hands. If the employee has failed to wash their hands, the badge they wear will provide visual and audible feedback, reminding them to go back and wash. The reminder system, not unlike the seatbelt reminder system in most vehicles, is highly effective at not only promoting hand hygiene but at reducing HAIs, too. Hospitals that installed the system went from averaging 40-50 percent compliance to about 90 percent.

Transforming healthcare with the power of insight

Before implementing the Compliance Monitoring system and transforming hospital environments, Ecolab needed to undergo a digital transformation of its own. Moving its system to the cloud enabled them to track half a million data points every day. In addition to Azure, the team implemented Power BI to analyze data and track trends. With systems in 12 hospitals, Ecolab has analyzed enough data points to provide powerful insights. It’s these insights that help the team move from trials to full implementations.

Because of the scalability and customization of the Compliance Monitoring System, Ecolab is able to tweak data points for each client based on personnel variables. “Once you’ve seen one hospital, you’ve seen one hospital,” Peterson explains. “They’re all unique and the solution needed to be adaptable to that.”

The future of HAI prevention

Having the system in 12 hospitals and trialing in an additional eight is just the beginning. Ecolab has a global vision for this technology, the compliance it ensures, and the HAIs it prevents. Their vision for the future also involves more technology, and the ability to use Predictive Modeling in Azure Machine Learning. Ecolab is busy working with the data it already has, analyzed through Power BI, to create the predictive algorithms it needs to do just that. Their goal is to be able to predict infections in advance. Powerful technological advances and a true commitment to making environments “cleaner, safer, healthier,” enable Ecolab to promote better health around the world.