Put simply, people are dying from hospital acquired infections because we don’t clean our hands regularly enough. Hospitals are full of touch points, making the spread of viruses very easy. While there are many cleaning and sanitizing stations, they require already very busy staff to stop what they’re doing. As a result, they are not used enough.
We worked with Altitude Medical to develop the PullClean door handle, a simple solution that turns the most regular touch point in the hospital into a place to clean your hands.
By transforming the door handle into a sanitizer we ensure the sanitizers are in ‘the line of motion’ of hospital staff. This small but critical change reduces the amount of thought required by staff, making the hand-sanitizing process as simple as possible. The ultimate aim of this was to make it so simple that sanitizing becomes habitual every time you open the door.
From the outset we knew part of the challenge of improving hand sanitization rates would be collecting impartial data to prove the product's effectiveness. As soon as a member of staff acts as an observer to count sanitizing rates, the numbers are skewed by their presence. To provide vital feedback on sanitizing rates and measure the effectiveness of PullClean, we built sensors into the handle to collect anonymous usage data. The electronics were prototyped and developed concurrently with the handle hardware to ensure the sensing was accurate and the collection method simple and robust.
As the door acts as a gateway through which the majority of hospital staff travel, the handle is uniquely positioned to capture data. Once the handles are implemented across whole wards and hospitals, this data gives a clear view of sanitizing rates. We developed a web portal to allow infection-control staff to quickly and easily review the data. This provides effective feedback on the hand-sanitizing practices of different areas, but also allows staff to look at patterns of use and changes over time.
Pre-production prototypes of the handle have been used for a clinical trial in a leading US hospital. Once the handle was installed, the trial team saw the rates of hand sanitizing rise from 22% to 77%. This level of increase would have a massive impact on the rates of hospital acquired infections.
What started as a concept project expanded into full design support, from industrial design through to electronics development, production support and building a full cloud service to track usage. This collaboration led to an award-winning product that has launched Altitude Medical into the market-place, with an array of critical acclaim from the press.