Finnish company monitors hand-washing over Wi-Fi

NHS hospitals may have an annoying voice that chimes up to remind you to “clean your hands with the gel” whenever you walk past a cleansing station, but Finnish company Ekahau has come up with something ten steps further.  

According to Ekahau, hand hygiene is a real concern in both hospitals and doctor’s surgeries. It cites figures from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which claim that hospital acquired infections add more than $30 billion to healthcare costs and result in almost 100,000 deaths per year.

It has introduced a system that monitors how staff wash their hands before and after they have interacted with patients through technology over Wi-Fi networks. It hopes the new system will help prevent the spread of hospital acquired infections and earn it some dosh, too.

In order to monitor staff washing habits, the technology works by using location-enabled staff badges hand in hand with beacons that are embedded into dispensers. The badges, in theory, grass up that member of staff by transmitting information to the beacons about the activities of individual staff. This includes whether they wash their hands before and after interacting with a patient.

The technology also uses text displays on badges, sending out a cheeky little reminder about hygiene.

The system will be available in the second quarter of 2011.