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Application of Context-awareness to Hand Hygiene Compliance

Keywords: Hand hygiene, hygiene compliance, context-awareness.

In collaboration with: iDAPT

Overview of Research

It is estimated that more than 8,000 patients die each year in Canada as a result of infections acquired in hospitals. Published studies have generally found that the compliance with hand hygiene requirements by healthcare workers averages about 40% and that various educational and management interventions can only push this up to about 50% or 60%.

Fortunately, recent advances in technology have given us new options to enhance hygiene compliance. Engineers now have the ability to create context-aware "smart" devices which could use sensing and intelligent processing to help control the spread of infection - Yet it is rare for researchers to be able to observe and research such technology in situ, especially in the critical healthcare environment. Most published research takes place in isolated lab environments not conducive to the study of real-world impact. Fortunately Toronto boasts a strong network of teaching hospitals, with resources and expertise that can enable this type of research to take place. Implementing an intelligent context-aware system in a hospital setting entails many important issues that need to be explored, with insights that may be generalized to other environments.

This project aims to reduce the spread of infectious diseases with a focus on communication and information intelligence, providing an opportunity to contribute to areas including: decision making under uncertainty, privacy and social issues, cognitive modeling, epidemiology, interface design, and pervasive computing methodology.

Funding Sources

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

The Health Technology Exchange (HTX)

Research Team

Alex Mihailidis, Ph.D. P.Eng. (University of Toronto)

Geoff Fernie, Ph.D. P.Eng. (TRI)