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

Technology

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KTLA) – No fake-washing 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.

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

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

The band looks like a Fitbit, but with special software that communicates with Bluetooth sensors placed around workplaces. The sensors can be placed inside sanitizer and soap dispensers, above patient beds in hospitals, 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 revealed 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

The bands are also in use at the Translational Pulmonary and Immunology Research Center, or TPIRC, in Long Beach, California, where they’re checked out at the beginning of each shift. At the end of each shift, the bands are returned for sanitizing, for the next employee to use.

Administrators get a “compliance” report card filled with useful data including the duration or handwashing, the 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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