Is it Time to Rethink Hospital Hand Hygiene Promotion?
How do you remind hospital staff about hand hygiene? With 80% of hospital-acquired infections thought to be through hands, compliance and improvement requires constant attention. Studies have found that non-compliance is usually due to:
a. Forgetting or being distracted
b. Not having the right knowledge about the importance of hand washing
c. Not having the right facilities (eg hand wash) or time
The need to keep refreshing messages
Hygiene self-assessments focus on education and posters for reminders, but is this enough, or do we get poster blindness when we see the same thing every day? A 2015 study described hand hygiene compliance as “sub-optimal”, noting that when hand hygiene educational and promotional materials weren’t updated regularly, staff were less likely to pay attention to them. Participants suggested that hospitals take their cues from the advertising industry — regularly refreshing the “mode and content” of the messages.
What we can learn from the ad industry
The advertising industry knows that digital screens are much more effective than posters: they capture 400% more views than static displays. Innovative hospitals are using digital screens in staff areas to keep messages fresh and interesting. In a hand hygiene context, this might be using video to communicate the 5 moments in a more engaging way. Or creating a whole campaign with visuals that rotate each day.
A screen in the staff room is much more likely to be noticed than a message buried in an email newsletter. Studies show that dynamic content increases audience retention rates by 200%. Screens reach staff in the physical environment with messages that are eye-catching and can be refreshed constantly. By placing screens near toilets and hand wash stations, this concept can be easily extended to patients and visitors. The message for hand hygiene promotion is clear: think beyond traditional channels when it comes to impacting behaviour.