Successfully choosing new hand hygiene products: 4 key points

Hospitals consider changing hand hygiene products for a variety of reasons, including the opportunity to upgrade the quality of soap or sanitizer while saving money or finding a product compatible with new electronic dispensers. But finding the right product can be a daunting task, especially when guidance is scarce.

A recent article in the American Journal of Infection Control rectifies that issue, as infection control professionals from a Canadian hospital outlines key steps to a successful hand hygiene product switch. Here are four of those steps.

1. Evaluate available options. The authors recommend using the following criteria to find the right product: quality, safety, serviceability, standardization, cost, availability of touch-free dispensers and capability of dispensers to interact with electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring. “Touch-free dispensers are generally preferred by staff and have been shown to improve hand hygiene compliance,” the authors wrote.

2. Connect with a GPO. Group purchasing organizations are mainstays in the hospital supply chain arena, and GPOs tend to have researched and reviewed several products before making them available on their contract. Hospitals should connect with their GPO early in the process to ensure no delays in planning or implementation.

3. Gain stakeholder input. Change isn’t always easy, but it can be easier when stakeholders feel involved in the process. “Eliciting product selection input from various stakeholders upfront will help to assure the success of the process and is known to assist in driving overall hand hygiene practice and compliance once implemented,” according to the article. Stakeholders include infection prevention personnel, point-of-care staff, the installation company, the hand hygiene product vendor, housekeeping staff, facilities management staff, purchasing department and the GPO.

4. Map out dispenser locations. “In a facility with a significant footprint, meticulously mapping dispenser locations is very important for keeping the project on track,” the authors wrote. “A multidisciplinary approach, directly involving front-line staff, to analyze workflow patterns on a unit-by-unit basis is best in order to guide safe and convenient product placement and will ultimately assist in driving hand hygiene compliance.”