Hand Hygiene Program Helped Reduce Health Insurance Claims for Cold and Flu by 24 Percent

A workplace outcome study published in The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) found that offices equipped with alcohol-based hand sanitizers and hand sanitizing wipes throughout the building and at employees' desks resulted in 24.3 percent fewer healthcare claims for hand hygiene preventable illnesses -- such as cold, flu and respiratory illnesses -- than the office and employees in the control group without these products.

"This study builds on the decades of science demonstrating the effectiveness of a comprehensive hand hygiene program when PURELL™ products are used in real-world settings," said Jim Arbogast, PhD, the lead author of the study and vice president of hygiene sciences and public health advancements at GOJO. "With this study, the evidence is clear that PURELL™ products in a workplace can directly reduce hand hygiene preventable illnesses tied to doctors' visits by more than 24 percent."

The study, "Impact of a Comprehensive Workplace Hand Hygiene Program on Employer Health Care Insurance Claims and Costs, Absenteeism, and Employee Perceptions and Practices," was published June 9th in JOEM. The study evaluated a comprehensive hand hygiene program with PURELL® Hand Sanitizer and PURELL® Hand Sanitizing Wipes and its impact on actual medical insurance claims tied to doctors' visits. The study found in the first year of having PURELL™ products available at an employee's workspace as well as throughout the building, there was a statistically significant 24.3 percent lower incidence of hygiene preventable medical insurance claims compared to the control group.

GOJO and Medical Mutual of Ohio began collaborating on the study in 2013. The study, funded by GOJO, began in February 2014. The Medical Mutual Strongsville, Ohio, and Toledo, Ohio, offices were equipped with a comprehensive hand hygiene program, including alcohol-based hand sanitizer and hand sanitizing wipes. Medical Mutual's downtown Cleveland headquarters served as the control group. Al Parker, biostatistician at the Center for Biofilm Engineering at Montana State University, provided the statistical analysis.

"As a health insurance company we look for ways to help employers improve the health of their workforce," said Kathy Golovan, chief health officer and executive vice president for Medical Mutual. "The significance of this study is that it demonstrates an immediate health solution for employers that is easy to implement, cost effective and one that employees clearly value. Employers often focus on long-term chronic diseases like diabetes, heart health and weight loss of their workforce, but short-term solutions like a hand hygiene program can be impactful because it can quickly improve the health and wellness of their employees without economic stress to the organization."

The major findings of the study included:

•24.3% lower incidence of hand hygiene preventable insurance claims compared to the control group
•13.4% fewer sick episodes or unscheduled paid-time-off (PTO) in 2014-2015 in the intervention group compared to the previous year
•8 in 10 employees indicated having PURELL™ products throughout the office positively impacted their impression of their employer

"As a physician, I am a strong advocate for hand hygiene," said William Jarvis, MD, co-author of the study and former acting director of the Hospital Infections Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Doctors and other health professionals have been telling people for years the benefits of the healthy habit of hand hygiene, but some need proof that it makes a difference. This well-designed 13-month real-world environment study, with thorough analysis of four years of retrospective data, shows that when people use PURELL™ products only a few times a day, it can reduce sickness and ultimately reduce a trip to the doctor's office. Improving the health of workplace employees should be every employers' top priority."

Source: GOJO Industries