High-tech wristband reminds employees to wash their hands, tracks how well they do it

Technology

No fake washing your hands here. A high-tech wristband from a Los Angeles startup named Vitalacy is helping employees remember to wash their hands. It even knows where they started washing and how long they scrubbed or sanitized.

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“We’re seeing demand for a solution like this across industries well outside healthcare,” said Janel Nour-Omid, CEO and co-founder of Vitalacy.

“The risk of infections is extremely high when hand hygiene is low,” said Nour-Omid.

The band looks like a Fitbit, but with special software inside that talks to Bluetooth sensors placed around workplaces. They can be placed inside sanitizer and soap dispensers, above patient beds, near food prep areas and more.

When a worker gets close to an area where they should first wash their hands, the band will buzz with a gentle reminder to wash or sanitize.

“Children’s Hospital out in New York showed amazing results as hand hygiene duration went up. Their infections dropped to nearly zero,” said Nour-Omid, who told me that the inspiration for the device was a family member who got a deadly infection while in the hospital.

Janel Nour-Omid, CEO and co-founder of Vitalacy

We saw the bands in use at the Translational Pulmonary and Immunology Research Center, or TPIRC, in Long Beach.

The bands are checked out at the beginning of each shift, then returned for sanitizing for the next employee to use them.

Administrators get a “compliance” report card filled with useful data including hand wash duration, frequency and whether employees are actually following the rules.

The goal isn’t to penalize employees, but use a gentle combination of reminders and hard data to keep everyone healthier.

“It’s important that every company and every employer thinks about how to handle this type of risk as it moves forward and I think these types of high technology inputs and systems are the way of the future,” said Dr. Inderpal Randhawa, founder of TPIRC.

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