The OPHARDT Hygiene Monitoring System has now been supporting infection prevention in clinics and hospitals for a decade.
It is December 1, 2011. The very first dispenser activation has just been automatically recorded with the OPHARDT Hygiene Monitoring System® (OHMS). It is the dawn of a new age – the age of digitalized hand hygiene monitoring. A year earlier, a team of researchers led by Vicki Erasmus from the University of Rotterdam published a comprehensive review of the hand hygiene situation in hospitals worldwide.  The results show a fatal picture. Less than half of all necessary hand disinfections are carried out. Hand hygiene compliance in intensive care units is especially lacking. There are many reasons for this, including a lack of comprehensive dispenser infrastructure, hygiene training, as well as staff shortages.
The introduction of OHMS in 2011 came at the right time to improve hand hygiene, which was proving to be the most important infection control measure in hospitals. At that time, the pioneering concept of smart hand hygiene monitoring and feedback was largely unknown in the healthcare sector. The backbone of OHMS, then as now, is a network of smart dispensers that register each individual activation as soon as they happen. In terms of shape and size, these dispensers only slightly differ from conventional Euro dispensers. Once recorded, the data is used in OHMS to help healthcare staff better understand compliance needs and trends. All of this happens automatically, continuously, and without the use of additional personnel resources.
Easily evaluate accurate hand hygiene data
From the end of 2011, hygiene specialists in hospitals had access to basic hand hygiene data at the click of a mouse, which gave them the information they needed to help improve the dire lack of hand hygiene compliance. OHMS makes the actual disinfection behavior of hospital staff transparent for the first time. Analysis of the weak points in the dispenser infrastructure, identifying training topics based on real-world needs, and providing immediate hand hygiene feedback to hospital staff could now be carried out by the hygiene specialist in a time-saving and very effective manner.
Compared to previously-used ways of measuring compliance, the Hygiene Monitoring System from Ophardt has significant advantages. One method for evaluating hand hygiene compliance is by tracking how much sanitizer each ward orders. This approach has significant weaknesses, especially around data accuracy and availability. The second established method for recording hand hygiene is known as direct observation. Here, a trained person in the hospital ward, usually the hygienist himself, directly observes hospital staff hand disinfection behavior. This approach is incredibly time consuming and only paints a very small part of the large picture of compliance. 
A journey through OHMS’s history
Let us take a look at some important milestones of the last ten years of OHMS.
Renowned hospitals rely on smart hand hygiene
After the first smart sanitizer dispensers, the ingo-man® plus Weco series, went online in December 2011, further installations in clinics and hospitals throughout Germany followed in the coming months. The first users of the hand hygiene monitoring system included Berlin’s Charité hospital, Freiburg University Hospital, and Jena University Hospital. In the largest clinic in Thuringia, OPHARDT’s monitoring system provided important hand hygiene data for the ALERTS study . The study set itself the goal of effectively reducing hospital-acquired infections. Specifically, OHMS helped optimize the locations of disinfectant dispensers throughout the university hospital.
Prof. Petra Gastmeier, MD, director of the National Reference Center for Surveillance of Nosocomial Infections, calls the hospital infection detection and surveillance method developed by ALERTS a “model for other hospitals.” 
Digital hand hygiene monitoring quickly generated interest outside of Germany as well. For example, the Amsterdam University Medical Center implemented OHMS and equipped two wards with WiFi-enabled hand sanitizer dispensers. With the help of OHMS, a team of researchers led by Martine Caris observed the positive effect that “nudges“ can have to improve both staff behavior staff and patient safety.
An entirely new category of monitoring
The quantification of the so-called Hawthorne effect in hand hygiene observation is another important finding that can be attributed to OPHARDT’s monitoring system. The Hawthorne effect describes the influence that the presence of an observer has on the hand hygiene behavior of nursing staff and physicians.
In 2013, the research team led by Dr. Stefan Hagel and Co. used OHMS to investigate how direct observation distorts hand hygiene compliance. The physically observed data was three-times more inaccurate, and this method was found to be heavily subject to error.  For hygiene professionals, this is a valuable insight when interpreting hygiene data and one more reason to rely on electronic monitoring.
Hagel underlines the importance of OHMS: “The system provides reliable usage data around the clock, 365 days a year, without ‘observation effects‘. On this basis, we can determine actual hand hygiene behavior and sustainably improve it as an important component of infection prevention.”
An entire clinic relies on digital dispensers
Another milestone for the OPHARDT Hygiene Monitoring System® was reached in 2015, when the Heart and Diabetes Center NRW (HDZ NRW) in Bad Oeynhausen became the first hospital in Germany to put OPHARDT’s digital hand hygiene monitoring system into operation in all bedside areas. Since then, more than 1,000 smart Euro dispensers measure disinfection behavior in the clinic and provide hygiene managers with invaluable data.
Hand hygiene improved, nosocomial infections reduced
In the same year, Dr. Andreas Glöckner presented his research results for the first time at the National Health Quality Congress in Berlin.  The infectiologist and intensive care physician analyzed the influence of the OPHARDT Hand Hygiene Monitoring System on hand disinfectant consumption and healthcare-associated infections infections at the BDH Clinic Greifswald.
During the one-year study period, a 31 percent increase in disinfectant consumption per patient day was achieved compared to the previous year. Of particular interest: the average consumption per hand disinfection also increased significantly, which improved the quality of hand hygiene. In turn, nosocomial infections decreased by 28 percent per patient day. This is a truly amazing result that underscores the benefits of real-time hand hygiene data.
Smart dispenser with built-in feedback
Since then, more and more healthcare facilities are turning to the OPHARDT Hygiene Monitoring System®. Even outside of large university hospitals, hand hygiene is going digital. For example, the Municipal Hospital in Braunschweig introduced its digital hygiene solution in 2016, as did the Protestant Hospital in Lippstadt.
As the system evolved, OPHARDT Hygiene launched the ingo-man® SmartNose in 2019, a retrofittable unit that makes existing sanitizer dispensers smart. This product is compatible with all existing ingo-man® plus euro dispensers and can be installed in just a few simple steps. Switching to smart hand hygiene is easier than ever before. In addition to the comprehensive and easily to evaluate data on disinfection behavior by ward, the ingo-man® SmartNose introduce another way to prevention infection. A green feedback LED on the top of the device provides nursing staff, doctors and other medical personnel with immediate feedback as to whether the correct amount of sanitizer has been dispensed.
In the software area, too, the digital systems from OPHARDT Hygiene are constantly evolving. With an updated user interface, the introduction of alerts, and the development of an innovative task management function, OHMS becomes even more valuable for its users in the healthcare sector.
Over 50 million hand disinfections
Proof of the ever-growing user base is the recent achievement of 50,000,000 measured hand disinfections with the OPHARDT Hygiene Monitoring System®. The milestone of 25 million is just three years ago, showing a rapid increase in the adoption of smart solutions to break the chain of infection.