Although it may be surprising to hear that being in the hospital can make a person sick, it definitely does happen. In the United States, about one in every 20 people admitted to a hospital will end up with a healthcare acquired infection, or HAI. Of those people, approximately 100,000 die from such infections annually. One of the keys to reducing the occurrence of HAIs is to get healthcare workers to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly – which is just what the intelligentM bracelet is designed to do.

While there are a number of new technologies designed to address the hand hygiene problem, most often plain old human observers are posted at hand-washing areas within a hospital. These observers can’t be everywhere all the time, however, and some people are likely to only do the correct amount of hand-washing when they know they’re being watched.

That’s where intelligentM comes in.

The bracelet is worn by doctors, nurses, technicians and any other staff members who regularly come into contact with patients, for the entirety of each working shift. Inside of the device is an accelerometer-equipped microprocessor, that is able to recognize the movements associated with hand-washing and the application of hand sanitizer.

intelligentM communicates with RFID tags located at each location where washing or sanitizing is required. If the wearer doesn’t do these things, in the proper fashion and for the proper amount of time, the bracelet will buzz three times to let them know (it buzzes once if they've done it correctly). Additionally, it keeps a record of such infractions. Administrative personnel can then check back over whole groups’ or individual employees’ records, to see if they’ve been diligent in their hygiene. If there have been any lapses, the times and locations are provided.

According to a report in MIT Technology Review, a hospital in Sarsota, Florida has been using the system since last December, and two other clients in that state have recently adopted the technology.