Low power RF technology enables intelligent hand hygiene system to prevent hospital infections

September 09, 2011 // By Paul Buckley
Low-power wireless chip technology from NXP Semiconductors N.V. is being used the HyGreen Hand Hygiene and Recording System, designed by HyGreen, to capture and transmit data on hand washing by healthcare workers, helping to improve hospital hygiene.  The innovative solution actively reminds busy healthcare workers to wash their hands, and records all hand-washing events and patient-staff interactions in the hospital environment.

Hand washing is the single most important procedure for preventing infections, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nevertheless, contaminated healthcare workers' hands continue to play a major role in transmitting infections, contributing to prolonged hospital stays, long-term disability, increased bacterial resistance to antibiotics, high costs for hospitals and patients, and even death.     

HyGreen is using the NXP JN5139 wireless microcontroller and the JenNet wireless network protocol stack optimized for low-power, low-data rate, cost-sensitive applications, and plans to start using the JN5148 microcontroller later in 2011. Based on the IEEE 802.15.4 specification, JenNet enables a robust, self-healing network that helps HyGreen track all hand-washing events, as well as which patient bed each healthcare worker has visited, allowing hospitals to effectively monitor adherence to hand hygiene protocols.     

After cleaning his or her hands with soap or gel, a healthcare worker places them under a HyGreen sensor which sends a wireless “all clean” message to his or her HyGreen badge, which then blinks green. When the healthcare worker approaches a patient bed, the HyGreen monitor above the bed checks if the badge is transmitting an “all clean” signal. If the badge is not green, the badge vibrates, reminding the healthcare worker to wash. Reports on hand-washing compliance are available to hospital management in real time.     

“Leading hospitals are counting on us to deliver a hand hygiene system that improves personnel hygiene and ultimately helps to improve their bottom line by reducing healthcare-associated infections. NXP has helped us design and deliver a highly reliable solution that is cost-effective and very easy for hospitals to maintain,” said Ron Youngblood, vice president of operations, HyGreen, Inc. “After months of use, the HyGreen Hand Hygiene and Recording System continues to offer excellent battery life, thanks to the ultra-low power consumption of NXP's wireless module, which uses only one-tenth the power required by WiFi.”     

“The HyGreen Hand Hygiene Reminder