You may remember The Agency of Design from our story on designing with energy, as told by the group's co-founder Richard Gilbert. Just as the Agency's design for a sustainably efficient lamp was focused on hard data—in lieu of the fluffy eco-friendly promises and features we too often see today— their recent project, PullClean, is largely based on research and observation. By investigating the daily movements of hospital employees, the Agency of Design came up with a door-handle-turned-sanitizer that makes it as convenient as possible for hospital employees to keep their hands clean by using one of the most used surfaces to do so.
As stated in their product video, hospital acquired infections kill around 100,000 people in the U.S. every year. As we know from Rachel Lehrer's two-part case study on the topic, sanitizing in a hospital environment is a real problem for employees—and when they're attending to already sick or injured patients, the germ-spreading quotient multiplies.
Gilbert explains in the video:
The Agency of Design created a web portal to record and dissect the success of the design through usage sensors located in the handles. Here's what they found:
Pre-production prototypes of the handle have been used for a clinical trial in a leading U.S. 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.
Currently, PullClean is in production and targeted to ship this year. Keep an eye on their website for any updates on shipping dates.
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I understand how placing a sanitizing dispenser in the middle of a major pathway makes it more likely to use, and I'm guessing they used door handles to avoid getting in the way of beds and stretchers.
I'd like to see a similar concept applied to automatic doors: less touching and more sanitizing.
@Nigel: From what I understood you don't have to use the sanitizer to open the door, but using the built-in dispenser does not require the user to change his behavior to sanitize. It is less unobtrusive to do as it will be in the major walkways anyways.
@Gabriel: I don't think that you would have to replace every handle in the hospital. But those on the major walkways could be helpful and sufficient enough. But this requires some proper planning in advance.
But I wonder how this is really helpful, as you still have to touch the handle. Most of the hopitals I have seen recently have got electric door openers in the major walkways and usually on the inside of any examination room there's a sink and a dispenser for sanitizers, which you have to operate with your lower arm. So you don't spread bacteria with your hands.
When you put these handles in major walkways (instead of electrical door openers) more people will touch the handle...that's just my gut feeling.
I would love to see more data from them to really back this up.