I’m a fanatic about hand hygiene. My firm has developed hand hygiene programs for a number of hospitals and we’ve even piloted a handwashing program in a local high school. I’ve written articles about hand hygiene and spoken at national conference on the topic. It is important! And it saves lives.
So we all agree that Hand hygiene is critical in hospitals. Now General Electric researchers have jumped on the hand hygiene bandwagon. Last year, GE Chairman and CEO Jack Welch acquired a serious spinal infection that almost ended his life. GE is now a mission to improve patient safety, reduce infections and eliminate medical errors in hospital rooms.
GE’s Global Research Center is partnering with Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown to create “Smart Patient Room” technology. According to a recent Times Union article written by Eric Anderson, “The new room tracks hand hygiene compliance, the risk that a patient may fall out of bed and whether the patient is being checked regularly by medical staff.”
The smart room technology is remarkable. Its sensors and visual detectors have the power to track individuals and identify whether they are patients, doctors, nurses and so on. The technology can also monitor if staff washed their hands, that medical staff visited the patient regularly and that the patient isn’t at risk to fall off the hospital bed.
According to Jeff Terry, managing principal at GE Healthcare, medical errors cost the U.S. health care industry $30 billion a year. It is estimated that 40,000 to 100,000 preventable deaths each year are the result of medical error. This is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. GE’s technology has the potential to positively change behavior in the health care industry. If this technology is ever implemented nationwide, it will be intriguing to see its impact on preventable deaths in the country.