Posts Tagged ‘hand hygiene’

img_8795Starbucks is part of my daily routine and has been for years. On Swarm, I am the mayor of my local Starbucks. The people in my neighborhood shop know me by name and give me incredible service.

When the company rolled out its mobile order service in 2015, I watched with interest. It really has changed the dynamic in the store. With all of these online orders flooding in, it is difficult to know where my order falls in the queue. That said, mobile ordering hasn’t diminished the quality of my customer experience, but it has introduced an unexpected health concern.

A health risk: One problem with the online ordering is that the person who ordered the drink is often not in the store when the drink is prepared. The barista calls our the name on the order (“Mobile order for Dan”), and then places the drink on the counter with all of the other mobile orders. Suddenly, there are a bunch of drinks on the counter. As customers enters the store looking for their online orders, they start handling (touching) the drinks to find their own. You see, the stickers Starbucks prints out and places on the cups aren’t particularly easy to read and are often covered up by the cup sleeve or are turned away from the customer. People continually walk up to the array of drinks and manipulate them to determine which one is their order. Let me be clear, I don’t want anyone handling my drink. But what I object to the most is people who handle the cups by grabbing them by the lid. I see this happen every day at my Starbucks and at other locations that I visit during my travels. (I have a similar issue with restaurant menus that are not sanitized after each use.)

fullsizerender-4In my line of work I have developed a keen appreciation for hand hygiene – and an understanding of just how many people fail to adhere to good hand hygiene practices. These Starbucks customers could have the flu or some other contagious condition, and are touching the lid of a drink that may not be their own. The germs travel from their hand to another customer’s lips. It is disgusting. It is bad hygiene that could lead to the transmission of nasty infections!

What should Starbucks do? I believe Starbucks should encourage customers not to handle cups by the lids. That seems like a simple message that could be communicated in the store through signage. Starbucks could also coach baristas to place the cups on the bar with the sticker facing the customer. That would make it easier (still not perfect) for customers to identify their drinks. I’m sure there are a number of solutions. My objective is to keep Starbucks from becoming a distribution point for the spread of the common cold, influenza, noroviruses, nosocomial infections, hepatitis and other diseases/illnesses that are easily transmitted by touch. Is that too much to ask?


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I’ve been blogging now for seven years. I believe I wrote my first blog post in May 2007. The experience has been fascinating. There are times when I’m able to step back and look at my blogging life as if I were a disinterested third party. It is at those times that it becomes apparent that my blog has taken on a life of its own!

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 5.15.02 PMOne thing I’ve learned is that successful bloggers are prized by commercial enterprises as potential distribution outlets for messaging about their products and services. I’m contacted daily by people who want me to share their press releases (this includes major health insurance companies and medical centers), to write about new technologies, or to place their advertising on my blog. People also contact me with genuine questions about a given blog post or topic. Because I’ve written a great deal about patient safety and hand hygiene, I receive all kinds of inquiries about those topics in particular. During flu season (right now), that activity escalates.

I am always open to people contacting me, grateful for their comments, and do my best to respond to their questions. Occasionally I approach these inquiries with suspicion because of the way they are worded (typically these are email messages). That was the case yesterday when a woman named Sarah emailed me regarding one of my blog posts dealing with a hand hygiene campaign my firm produced for Tufts Medical Center. Something wasn’t right about her email. Here is a transcipt of Sarah’s message to me:


My name is Sarah________ and I am doing a project into the best way to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance. I was interested to see the graph at https://thehealthcaremarketer.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/today-cmo-stands-for-chief-medical-officer/ showing the changes in MRSA rates along with the improving hand hygiene compliance at Tufts Medical Center. If it would be possible, I would love to be able to look further at this data, considering the other factors which could have influenced the decreasing MRSA rates and the costs behind putting in place the patients safety campaign.

I would like to be able to use this to evaluate the method of improving infection prevention and control practices in tackling antibiotic resistance. Please could you tell me more about this?

Thank you so much,


Within her message, Sarah never disclosed who she works for? What organization does she represent? That is usually not a good sign. And she’s asking for access to our data? I was leery. So, I emailed Sarah, thanking her for contacting me and asked where she works. This was her response:


I am 16 years old and still at school doing an extended project as part of my A levels. I am hoping to go to university and study veterinary medicine and am especially interested in antibiotics and the problems they could cause.



Isn’t that cool? Evidently Sarah is in secondary school in the UK. 16-years-old and she’s emailing me for information about hospital acquired infections and antibiotic resistance! I love it. It makes me smile. From my perspective, Sarah contacting me was a gift. I was able to send her an article I co-authored with several physicians from Tufts Medical Center that appeared in the Joint Commission’s Journal of Quality & Patient Safety (Volume 37, Issue 1). Hopefully that will give her the information she needs for her school project. She was very appreciative and thanked me for the help.

When I started blogging, my philosophy was all about sharing. In my role at Jennings I come across interesting information on a daily basis. My goal was to share that information with other healthcare marketers and communicators who may not have access to the same information. For the most part, I’ve been true to that goal and have thoroughly enjoyed the life of a blogger. I am grateful for people like Sarah who actually read my blog, find something of value, and contact me for more information. That makes it worthwhile. Thanks Sarah.

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Screen shot 2012-12-17 at 2.43.24 PMEarlier this week I was contacted by Bob Allen, the VP of Communications at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, New York. I am grateful to Bob for sharing with me a special project that was undertaken by a small group of Crouse clinicians. Dave Martin, RN, Infection Control; Todd Olrich, CNS; Waleed Javaid, MD, Infection Control Medical Director; Mickey Lebowitz, MD, Senior Medical Quality Director; and Dennis Brown, MD, Senior Surgical Quality Director all got together and created a video titled “The Germinator.” Not only did they create the video, but they starred in it as well! As Crouse states on its website, “this team produced a ‘homemade’ video that uses music and humor to convey a very important message: Hospital Acquired Conditions (HACs) are deadly serious – and Crouse Hospital is deadly serious about reducing and eliminating them.” My understanding is that the idea for the video came from the very fertile and active mind of Mickey Lebowitz, MD, who serves as senior medical quality director for Crouse Hospital.

According to Bob, employees who have seen the video love it. What more can you ask? If it’s generating talk among hospital employees, then I judge it to be a success. Congrats to the team at Crouse Hospital.

Check out the video below. Enjoy! Isn’t it cool that these clinicians took the initiative to produce this video all on their own? I applaud the initiative. For more info on the campaign, click here.

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Over the years I’ve written a ton of posts about hand hygiene. I’m passionate about it. I’ve develop hand hygiene campaigns, spoken on the topic at healthcare conferences, written articles about it, and was even quoted in USA Today in a story about the H1N1 or swine flu where I discussed the importance of hand hygiene to help manage the spread of the flu (“Your Health: More dirt on disease and washing your hands,” USA Today, May 18, 2009).  So I was thrilled to see this crazy SportsCenter commercial from ESPN. The announcers from ESPN discuss (tongue and cheek) how rapidly and mysteriously colds spread throughout their office. You’ll understand why in the commercial below. Have fun.

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy New York;  Director: Jim Jenkins

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Life is fascinating. Do you ever wonder how you ended up where you are today? I started out my career in Academia. I was going to have a career as a college professor. Why? Because I loved teaching. While working on my Master’s Degree I had the opportunity to teach several classes and loved it. I thought that teaching was my calling. While attending the Ph.D. program at U-Mass Amherst, I taught at local colleges to bring in extra income: Westfield State College, U-Mass Amherst and Community College of Vermont. It was a blast.

But I ended up leaving Academia because I grew disillusioned. I found that the emphasis at major universities was on research, publishing, and presenting at industry conferences, rather than on teaching. As a faculty member, it was about building your CV. To me, it seemed like their priorities were all wrong. Not only did faculty seem uninterested in teaching, for the most part they weren’t very good at it. So I left that life and began my career in marketing (much to the dismay of my parents who had their hearts set on me becoming a college professor).

What I find so amusing is that over the last 20 years I have developed a career where I now spend a ton of time writing articles, publishing, and speaking at conferences. For me, the cool thing is that all of that fits within the context of teaching. (I’m not trying to secure tenure anywhere.) Whether I am face-to-face with a client, coaching an employee, writing an article or speaking at a conference, I am always teaching (and learning). That’s one of the things that excites me about marketing and social media: they are ever changing and evolving. I am constantly learning and then sharing what I learn via my blogs, twitter, articles, presentations and webinars.

I started thinking about all of this a couple days ago when an article I co-authored was published in the Joint Commission’s Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. Having an article published in a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal was exactly what my colleagues in Academia lived for. It helped them on their path to tenure and moved them up the departmental pecking order. Most importantly, it was a stature building event. I can tell you with certainty that no one at Jennings (my current firm) even knows that this article was published. Nor have most of them even heard of the Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. But I will confess that the inner teacher in me is thrilled about the article. People who work in patient safety at hospitals around the country will soon be reading about the innovative program we launched at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and the measurable impact it had on helping to create a culture of quality within the organization. Hopefully they will learn from Tufts’ experience and improve patient safety in their own organizations. I’m a marketing nerd and that kind of achievement makes what I do worthwhile.

I guess that January is a good month for both reflecting and for looking ahead. Even though I think it’s ironic that I’ve ended up in this position, I sure am happy that I’m here. I love what I do and I have found my calling. I don’t know many people who can say that about their professional path. I hope you can.

So, how did you end up where you are?

Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer

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I’m a fanatic about hand hygiene. My firm has developed hand hygiene programs for a number of hospitals and we’ve even piloted a handwashing program in a local high school. I’ve written articles about hand hygiene and spoken at national conference on the topic. It is important! And it saves lives.

So we all agree that Hand hygiene is critical in hospitals. Now General Electric researchers have jumped on the hand hygiene bandwagon. Last year, GE Chairman and CEO Jack Welch acquired a serious spinal infection that almost ended his life. GE is now a mission to improve patient safety, reduce infections and eliminate medical errors in hospital rooms.

GE’s Global Research Center is partnering with Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown to create “Smart Patient Room” technology. According to a recent Times Union article written by Eric Anderson, “The new room tracks hand hygiene compliance, the risk that a patient may fall out of bed and whether the patient is being checked regularly by medical staff.”

The smart room technology is remarkable. Its sensors and visual detectors have the power to track individuals and identify whether they are patients, doctors, nurses and so on. The technology can also monitor if staff washed their hands, that medical staff visited the patient regularly and that the patient isn’t at risk to fall off the hospital bed.

According to Jeff Terry, managing principal at GE Healthcare, medical errors cost the U.S. health care industry $30 billion a year. It is estimated that 40,000 to 100,000 preventable deaths each year are the result of medical error. This is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. GE’s technology has the potential to positively change behavior in the health care industry. If this technology is ever implemented nationwide, it will be intriguing to see its impact on preventable deaths in the country.

For more, check out this story on the Times Union:

There’s also a good story in Infection Control Today titled “GE Healthcare’s Smart Patient Room Helps Monitor Hand Hygiene Compliance” at  http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/news/2010/09/ge-healthcares-smart-patient-room-helps-monitor-hand-hygiene-compliance.aspx.

If you are interested in learning more about GE and its healthcare initiatives, you can follow GE on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/gehealthy. Or you can visit their healthymagination blog at http://www.healthymagination.com/blog/.

Post by Dan Dunlop and Stephanie Cohen, The Healthcare Marketer

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Yesterday was a very cool day. My production manager and I spent a couple of hours at a local high school deploying a hand hygiene campaign. It’s a derivative of the campaign we developed in partnership with Tufts Medical Center. The program has been wildly successful at Tufts and elsewhere, and after some coverage in USA Today, we received a number of inquiries from public schools asking if we could adapt it to their environment. (This is the same program that Dr. David Fairchild and I presented at last year’s SHSMD conference.)

We ended up being invited by one of our local high schools, Carrboro High, to do a pilot study in their facility. So yesterday we traveled the halls of the high school, visiting restrooms, teacher’s lounges, the cafeteria and locker rooms to apply the colorful hand hygiene stickers to mirrors and handwashing dispensers.

Our plan is to track the effectiveness of the campaign and roll it out to other schools if proven to be impactful. We know it works in the healthcare environment, but communicating with 15 to 18 year old students is a whole new ballgame.

Below are some photos from our outing yesterday:

Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer

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