Researchers Report on Collaborative with Industry to Improve Hand Hygiene

Collaboration with industry focused on health improvement is often viewed sceptically while existing examples show a clear public health benefit. Pittet et al. (2013) report on an approach adopted to explore the potential for establishing a collaborative with the World Health Organization (WHO) Patient Safety Program. The researchers sought to establish a transparent WHO industry collaborative for the benefit of patients, avoiding a focus on the potential for commercial gain.

Between 2007 and 2012 a number of steps were undertaken; 1) scoping of the potential for a collaborative, the benefits to patients and to establish an aim, which included desk research and multidisciplinary/agency discussions 2) interviews with WHO legal department 3) an announcement to potential participants and informal collaborative face-to-face interviews with interested parties to strengthen a realistic patient-focused aim.

A formal proposal was approved by the WHO's legal department in 2012, which includes the overall aim of improving systems, education and research in order to provide a public health benefit by reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAI). Criteria for participation are clear and a code of conduct and finance details are outlined. Implementation was approved as a protected web-based platform to allow for targeted interaction, with a first-year aim of evaluating this. A total of 14 companies from industries related to improving patient safety through hand hygiene responded to the call from WHO and have signed up to the code of conduct and provided finance. An editorial and note for the media announcing the collaborative and its name Private Organizations for Patient Safety (POPS) was issued in 2012 to support transparency. One formal collaborative project has been undertaken.

The researchers report that a transparent collaborative has been established and funded which presents a clear public health benefit and ensures that those involved are focused on corporate social responsibility. They say that as the plan for the first year is to evaluate the platform method of working, this will inform next steps as to whether it is possible to undertake fair and equitable project working which can significantly contribute to reducing HAI in the long term.

Reference: D Pittet, C Kilpatrick, E Kelley, B Allegranzi, S Bagheri-Nejad. Poster presentation P179 the 2nd International Conference on Prevention and Infection Control (ICPIC 2013): Establishing a collaboration with industry to support HAI reduction. Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control 2013, 2(Suppl 1):P179 doi:10.1186/2047-2994-2-S1-P179.