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Thermal Technology Could Boost Handwashing Rates, Cut Infection Rates in Health Care Facilities

Posted by Chris Giallanza on Oct 10, 2012 10:20:00 PM

-- International observances emphasize infection prevention in October --

ATLANTA - The world will recognize the need for hand hygiene and infection prevention during October. International Infection Prevention Week is held from Oct. 14-20, while Global Handwashing Day is on Oct. 15, and a high-tech thermal solution currently under trial could have potential to increase hand-hygiene compliance and help to reduce hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) around the world.

The Intelligent Handwash Monitor (IHM), developed and deployed by Irisys, monitors the movement of physicians, nurses, technicians and other health care workers to identify key handwash opportunities that arise at the point of patient care – and compares those opportunities to actual handwash occurrences.

Non-intrusive thermal sensors installed at critical points throughout the health care facility monitor workers’ behavior. The system delivers comprehensive data to achieve a simple desired effect: boost handwash compliance and prevent the spread of HAIs, which cause nearly 100,000 deaths annually in the United States, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

The IHM has been under trial in the United Kingdom since February 2011, when Irisys was awarded a two-year contract with funding from the Department of Health.

“For at least one day during International Infection Prevention Week, almost the entire world recognizes handwashing as a significant priority in preventative health care,” says Tony Dunn, divisional director, health care for Irisys. “These observances attract tremendous support for those of us who work all year long to improve hand hygiene around the world.”

The significance of maintaining proper hand hygiene in the health care environment continues to be a key priority for the World Health Organization (WHO). And although WHO reports that health care facilities around the world have taken seriously the need to improve hand-hygiene practices at the point of care, 35 percent of more than 2,100 facilities surveyed earned fewer than 250 out of 500 points in the WHO Hand Hygiene Self-Assessment Framework questionnaire – indicating hand hygiene to be basic or inadequate.

Irisys’ IHM could prove a pivotal solution in the global effort to boost hand hygiene compliance, including in the United States, where nearly 2 million HAIs occur annually.

“Health care facilities need and want a system to directly impact the percentage of patients who acquire infections during their stay by supporting health care workers to meet hand hygiene targets,” Dunn says. “The Intelligent Handwash Monitor is a non-intrusive way to monitor key handwashing opportunities in these facilities around the clock.”

For more information about Irisys and the IHM visit

About Irisys

Irisys is a UK innovator in award-winning technologies that make a significant, measurable impact on business efficiency and improve the quality of people’s lives. Irisys is a high technology manufacturing success story, exporting British technology all over the world, and regularly featuring in the Sunday Times Tech Track list of fastest growing technology companies.  The company invests double digit percentage of revenues in R&D and holds over 70 patents. One in six employees has a PhD. Irisys thermal cameras are used in a wide range of surveillance, night vision and thermography applications. Irisys people counting technology is used by many of the world’s leading retailers, shopping centres and airports to improve customer service and increase efficiency. Irisys was acquired by Fluke, Inc. in June 2012.