To mark the World Health Organisation, Hand Hygiene Day on Wednesday 05 May, researchers at NUI Galway and clinicians in University Hospital Galway have trialled the use of a robot called DAVE to prompt people to wash their hands.
DAVE (Droid Audio Visual Educator) has been developed as part of a digital health project using anthropomorphic robots to improve hand hygiene behaviour of visitors, patients and staff at the hospital.
The project principal investigator Professor Derek O’Keeffe, Consultant Endocrinologist said, “Cleaning hands regularly is one of the most effective ways of stopping the spread of COVID-19 as well as many common infections. Awareness of the importance of hand hygiene has improved during the pandemic but fresh thinking is needed to keep the message active in people’s minds.
“Today we trialled the use of a life-sized robotic platform to provide a digital nudge to people on entry/exit to remind them to clean their hands. This is part of a project that will allow us to begin to scientifically explore an exciting and new area of human-robot healthcare education interaction.
“The DAVE robot is part of ongoing SFI funded research at the Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE) laboratory at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway, which is seeking to develop innovative solutions to clinical problems including hand hygiene compliance and diabetes education.”
Judith Davitt, Assistant Director of Nursing for Infection Prevention and Control Services at the hospital added, “On World Hand Hygiene Day and every day, we are promoting good hand hygiene and focusing on prevention of infection in health care. Good hand hygiene is one of the greatest protections for our health and the health of our families. We were delighted to be able to trial the use of a robot to remind people of the importance of effective hand hygiene and we look forward to future opportunities to harness technology to improve hand hygiene education and compliance.”