Automated handwashing technology to redefine hand hygiene

automated handwashing

CleanTech standardises automated handwashing in 12 seconds, removing more than 99.9% of pathogens, reducing risk of infection, and improving hygiene performance.

IT is widely accepted that hands are one of the most significant vectors in the transmission of infections. This is evident in health and care settings, where healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) are on the increase year-on-year. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly increased the need for effective and frequent hand hygiene. The gold standard in hand hygiene is correctly performed handwashing with soap and water; and the importance of effective handwashing cannot be overstated.

Unfortunately, as much as 95% of the general population do not wash their hands properly. A 2013 study on handwashing habits, conducted by Michigan State University and published in the Journal of Environmental Health, gave rise to some concerning statistics: after observing 3,749 people using public restrooms, researchers found just 5% of the subjects were washing their hands correctly. The average time spent washing hands was just six seconds, rather than the recommended 20 seconds of lathering and total wash time of 30 to 40 seconds. 15% of men and 7% of women did not wash their hands at all, while 50% of men and 22% of women did not use soap.

A human hygiene mission

Meritech Inc (Meritech) was founded in 1990, following the invention of CleanTech® in 1987 to improve hand hygiene performance through fully automated handwashing, thereby assuaging the risk of poor hand hygiene and mitigating the inevitable variability that occurs from person to person when washing hands. Our innate differences are what make the world an interesting place; and normal human behaviours and the variability they bring play an important role in a varied society. However, human variability and different behaviours from person to person in hand hygiene performance are not our friend. This is why Meritech was founded, and the subsequent 30 years have seen the growth of the company to more than 1,500 installations across healthcare and multiple other sectors where effective handwashing is identified as a must-have.

Meritech’s mission is simple: to save lives and prevent the spread of disease through effective hygiene. This mission is shared by Advanced Hygiene Technologies Ltd (AHT), the exclusive distributors of CleanTech in the UK and Ireland, partnering solely with Meritech and offering full sales and technical support.

International growth

CleanTech is installed in over 1,500 locations in the USA; and its customers in the UK and Ireland – with over 40 installations in the last six months alone – now include:

  • Hospitals;
  • Nursing homes;
  • COVID-19 assessment hubs;
  • Cleanroom facilities;
  • Biotech;
  • Medtech;
  • Food hygiene facilities;
  • Food processing plants;
  • Food service and restaurants;
  • Commercial spaces; and
  • Public buildings.

automated handwashing

Eradicating manual handwashing challenges

In considering the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidance on effective handwashing, it quickly becomes clear that variability naturally occurs with human behaviour – and that this variability is not our friend. In healthcare settings there is a constant need and drive towards effective, standardised handwashing. However, a proper manual handwash involves eight steps with 13 different actions. It is extremely difficult for an individual to get this right every time, even with repeated training, and practically impossible for groups to all do it the exact same way. The truth of the matter is: very few people wash their hands properly; and everyone does it differently.

Hand hygiene redefined through fully automated handwashing

To ensure effective handwashing every time you have to remove human behaviour and variability, while ensuring consistent pathogen removal. This is what CleanTech does, by washing the user’s hands for them touch-free in just 12 seconds. Variability is thereby eradicated and consistent pathogen removal is delivered by a perfect combination of science and engineering. Meritech is backed up by the results of over 50 independent laboratory studies to give healthcare professionals and facilities managers the required peace of mind when installing CleanTech systems. CleanTech’s automated handwashing technology also means that handwashing can be performed effectively, conveniently and quickly, without having to concentrate on the 13 different actions required for a proper manual handwash. Healthcare workers have enough on their minds without having to focus on remembering the exact technique required every time they want to wash their hands.

automated handwashing

Returning time to care

A big resource challenge in healthcare is time (or lack thereof). Returning time to the care of patients is a constant aim and challenge in healthcare. CleanTech is a great solution for this, as it not only transforms and improves hygiene performance, it also gives 20 seconds back to the care of patients for every single handwash. For a ward or clinic with a team of 20, where each person washes their hands just eight times per day, this can mean a total of up to 40 days of care returned to patients each year, not to mention the environmental benefit of around 11,000 litres of water saved per team member. Most healthcare professionals wash their hands a lot more than eight times per day. Studies show that some healthcare professionals should be washing their hands up to 100 times per shift. One barrier to doing this is the length of time (40-60 seconds according to the WHO recommendations) it takes to properly wash hands manually. CleanTech will return even more time to care in these cases, while making it hassle-free for the healthcare worker to get an effective handwash every time.

Accurate compliance metrics

Another challenge with manual handwashing in healthcare settings is understanding the overall level of compliance with effective soap and water handwashing. The only way it is possible to measure compliance is to observe handwashing performance, either in person or via cameras. This is not feasible in healthcare, or indeed in other sectors. CleanTech solves this with its inbuilt electronic handwash counter, enabling accurate reporting on handwashing compliance. The data can be gathered on a daily, weekly and/or monthly basis. This in turn facilitates a better understanding of the handwashing culture in a healthcare facility or organisation and delivers the all-important metrics with which to back up interventions and improvement programmes.

Promoting skin health

Skin sensitisation is a major challenge in healthcare, as many healthcare providers are required to perform a high number of hand hygiene events per day. Skin can often become irritated, thereby reducing the likelihood of performing frequent handwashing. CleanTech systems use Meritech’s specially formulated UltraPure handwashing solutions, with inbuilt conditioning ingredients which promote skin health, leaving hands feeling softer after each wash. This helps to increase handwashing compliance, as hands do not crack or become sensitive even with repeated handwashes each day.

CleanTech efficacy

Since 1988, Meritech has performed more than 50 laboratory studies to test the efficacy of the CleanTech automated handwashing stations; and has continued to test, improve, and re-test CleanTech in order to provide the perfect hand wash every time, in just 12 seconds. These studies have been conducted in collaboration with a third party Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-registered laboratory; and the methodology used was based on standards defined by both the FDA and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International.

The ‘glove juice method’ is one of the most common procedures for testing efficacy of handwashing products. Sterile gloves are put on the subject after their hands have been exposed to pathogens. A solution is then added to the gloves for sampling in order to indicate the concentration of pathogens. Then the hands are washed and the test is conducted again to assess the rate of pathogen reduction.

Methodology used:

Easy to install

CleanTech uses the same water and power connections as standard manual wash hand basins, sinks or troughs, making it an easy replacement option. Over the last three decades Meritech has developed models to suit all sectors. There are wall, counter and floor mounted models available to suit all applications and location types. Installation is easy, normally taking one to two hours in cases where CleanTech is replacing an existing wash hand basin. Retrofitting CleanTech for existing manual handwash stations is a particularly easy thing to do, and most installations are done this way, where the utilities are already in place. Warranties and full technical support and service is provided by AHT’s team of Meritech trained technicians.

For more information

Advanced Hygiene Technologies was founded in 2018 by Conor McGauran, specifically to distribute the full range of Meritech CleanTech products and solutions. The AHT team has a wealth of experience and expertise in technology product sales, services and technical support, across global markets, and was immediately impressed by Meritech’s track record and particularly the number of global organisations and brands which have adopted CleanTech in their facilities. With over 40 new client installations each quarter, many of them in healthcare, AHT is primed for significant growth in the next 12 months. The team is expanding to support CleanTech customers across the UK and Ireland, and would welcome enquiries from organisations interested in learning more about CleanTech touch-free automated handwashing technology and products. For more information visit, email or call +353 87 6167335.

Conor McGauran
Advanced Hygiene Technologies Ltd
+353 87 6167335

This article is from issue 15 of Health Europa. Click here to get your free subscription today.


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