iScrub Phone App Pilot Project Boosts Hand Hygiene Compliance

iScrub, an iPhone application pilot project that provided real-time feedback on hand hygiene compliance, had a significant impact on hand antisepsis among healthcare workers. Findings were presented by Jason Fries of the University of Iowa at the annual scientific meeting of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology (SHEA) earlier this month.

Fries explained that to improve hand-hygiene compliance, many hospitals track hand-hygiene rates using human observations and feed these rates back to healthcare workers. To facilitate and standardize the recording and collection of hand hygiene data, Fries reported that researchers at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics developed an iPhone App, called iScrub, and coupled it with a companion website to quickly and easily generate reports in near-real time.

Fries reported on the experiences of the 34-week deployment with the companion website where results from human observations were fed back in near realtime to healthcare workers on a clearly visible monitor in a single unit at University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics. iScrub was developed using Objective-C and Apple's iOS software development kit. The companion web-based application was implemented using the Python programming language, HTML, and the Django web framework. Analysis tools use JavaScript and jQuery to provide interactive visualizations of hand-hygiene compliance data. The iPhone app provides user authentication and communicates with the web application, over WiFi or through a cellular network, using Secure Socket Layer encryption to protect privacy. During the pilot, hand-hygiene observation data collected using iScrub was fed back to the unit on a rotating screen saver displaying summary statistics. The data and screen savers were updated every time human observers "synced" observations. The researchers provided two iPod Touches to the unit, and nursing leadership was instructed about how to use the application. As part of the project, the researchers specifically gave no instructions about when or how many observations should be done. To determine if there was a statistically significant trend in the hand-hygiene-compliance rate during the study period, the researchers fit a logistic regression model using generalized estimating equations, assuming an autoregressive correlation structure.

During the pilot project, Fries reported that healthcare workers who had never used an iPhone were comfortable using the application with minimal instruction. Nurse managers used iScrub for a total of 8,982 observations over the period, for an average of 264.18 (s.d. 169.55) per week. Compliance rates for 12 types of healthcare workers -- both near-real-time and historical rates -- were clearly posted via the screen saver. Weekly compliance rates are given in Figure 1. The overall trend in the compliance rate during the study period was upward and statistically significant (trend estimate = 0.0260, model-based SE = 0.0096, p-value = 0.0065).

Reference: Hlady CS, Curtis DE, Fries J, Yang M, Segre AM and Polgreen PM. iScrub: A Pilot Intervention with Feedback from a Companion Website. Presented April 2, 2011 at the 2011 SHEA Scientific Meeting, Dallas, Texas.