How digitalization of dispensing solutions can save money and lives
With many countries having endured the first wave of COVID-19, caution remains paramount as the virus continues its rapid expansion across the globe. In the absence of a proven vaccine, hand hygiene has become ever more indispensable in public areas, far beyond the medical sector. So how can we ensure that the next generation of dispensing hardware helps the public achieve their goal to Break the Chain of Infection? On July 1, we are proud to launch a new software suite – the OPHARDT Washroom Monitoring System (OWMS), which will address some of the most basic concerns public institutions have during this pandemic.
Living with the virus
As of June 2020, the world has changed dramatically and new habits to protect against infections have become part of everyday life. Most people forgo greeting each other with a kiss or a handshake, and keeping distance now seems like second nature. Based on data specific to the novel coronavirus and past pandemics, it is assumed that this pandemic is likely to last 18-24 months, until a so-called herd immunity (60 to 70 percent of the population infected) is reached.  On the other hand, Johann Ziehbur, Head of the Institute of Medical Virology at the University of Gießen, explains that immunity to similar viruses is typically lost over time . Most scientists agree that the virus will never disappear completely.
Protection against infection as an everyday routine
Just like influenza, Sars-CoV-2 is mainly spread via droplet infection and aerosols . These are the finest particles lurking in our ambient air. Contact or smear infections are also important transmission routes for the novel coronavirus. For this reason, hand hygiene has become as indispensable in public areas as in the medical sector. This critical infection prevention measure is also reflected in recent recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Based on a recent WHO recommendation released April 1, 2020, hand hygiene stations should be set up in front of the entrance to any public or private commercial building, in all areas of transport including airports, railway stations and seaports, and in educational institutions. While awareness of the importance of these practised measures has grown with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many institutions are finding it extremely difficult to meet the requirements for hand hygiene and to offer robust protection against infection . The challenge is not only to meet new hygiene guidelines and to create additional hand hygiene options, but also to coordinate filling and maintenance of the additional dispensers and hygiene stations.
Digital tools for the Future
So what is needed to continue to effectively protect ourselves and those around us from infections? We need intelligent solutions that combine intelligent hygiene devices, a robust IOT core, and user-friendly software into an easy-to-use system that can be integrated into the workflows of the medical sector, public sector, and beyond. This is exactly where the OPHARDT Intelligent Solutions (OIS) suite of products make their mark.
In 2011, OPHARDT Hygiene introduced a revolutionary digital hand hygiene monitoring system for the healthcare sector – the OPHARDT Hygiene Monitoring System® (OHMS). OHMS supports improvements in hand hygiene behaviour and compliance by supplying data to hygiene professionals on the quality of each hand hygiene event, as well as the number of hand hygiene events relative to the WHO’s five moments for hand hygiene. In the context of COVID-19, these digital systems are now more important than ever.
Beyond the healthcare space, our team has been working on digitalizing hand hygiene in public areas since 2015, and are now ready to launch the OPHARDT Washroom Monitoring System (OWMS). OWMS was developed to support facility management and cleaning staff in optimizing refills and maintenance of washroom equipment, while at the same time achieving resource and cost savings.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve witnessed a myriad of institutions outside of the healthcare sector struggling to meet the most basic hygiene needs. In a time when washing and sanitizing our hands is one of the most critical tools to prevent the spread of infection, ensuring soap and sanitizer is always available is key in keeping ourselves, our loved ones, and those around us safe.
Public washrooms must always be stocked to enable users to clean and dry their hands properly. As governments continue in their attempts to track and control the virus, government legislation of hygiene standards in public areas and public washrooms is also a looming possibility. Using the OWMS hardware and software, institutions can track the progress in their facilities and demonstrate they are doing their part to ensure proper hygiene standards are met.
The power of dispenser data
As part of our electronic monitoring infrastructure, our dispensers are equipped with smart modules. These smart modules can report information on dispenser activation (with dispenser ID and timestamp), volume of product dispensed, fill levels, and battery status. With information collated using the OWMS software, facility managers or hygiene specialists can deploy cleaning teams according to actual needs and predefined processes. This intelligent and fully automatic fill level measurement ensures long-term cost reduction of consumer goods by improved refill cycle timing. For example, if a paper towel dispenser’s fill level reaches a critical threshold, the smart module will send this information via our IOT core to our OWMS software. The OWMS software will then send an alert via smartphone app to the appropriate persons that a refill task must be completed. When the task is completed, the system automatically clears the task. The resulting product availability has been shown to increase the satisfaction of washroom visitors. Comprehensive data analysis is also available to determine cost saving initiatives, productivity increases, and anonymized guest behaviour.
In the context of COVID-19, these tools can be modified to create an infection prevention program. Thresholds for sanitizer dispensers can be adjusted so refill cycles are targeted to be more generous. Predefined facility cleaning processes can be made more rigorous and documented via task completion confirmation of personnel on smartphones. Consumables purchasing can also be monitored and adjusted based on changing consumption trends. In combination with OHMS, healthcare institutions can also ensure that both healthcare staff hand hygiene behaviour, and cleaning staff are performing to the highest standards.
Of course, with this exciting new software program officially joining the OIS suite of products, you can expect many more intelligent devices to be launched in the coming months and years. Particularly, dispenser systems for public areas will see a rapid expansion of smart products in Q3 2020.
Stay tuned for more.
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