‘Smart Door Handle’ Sanitises Hands

PullClean, an ‘innovative door handle’ that sanitises the user’s hands, triples the rate of hand sanitisation rates, and provides feedback on usage through a monitoring system, has been launched in the UK. Invented by Altitude Medical UK co-founders, Dr Alex Oshmyanksy and Dr Jake McKnight, when they were students at the University of Oxford, PullClean encourages people to clean their hands every time they enter and exit a room, ‘making hand hygiene simple and trackable’.

It was developed to reduce the spread of viruses and infections in any high- footfall setting such as hospitals, care homes, schools and universities, as well as leisure and hospitality venues such as hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, and airports.

To mark its UK launch, PullClean can be seen at London’s Science Museum as part of a new exhibition, ‘Superbugs: the fight for our lives’, which explores ‘how society is responding to the enormous challenge of antibiotic resistance and bacteria evolving into superbugs’. The exhibition is on until Spring 2019.

According to Altitude Medical, a pilot trial of a prototype of PullClean in the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in the US, saw the rate of hand sanitation rise from 24 to 77 percent after it was installed. The company explained: “PullClean encourages people to clean their hands, simply by placing the sanitiser in a more direct position and replacing two separate actions (sanitising and then opening a door) into one seamless movement.”

Dr Jake McKnight elaborated: “Our device offers a completely new way to clean hands. We wanted to make it so easy for people to sanitise their hands, that it is almost sub-conscious. It’s a small step to press a button when you’re already holding the handle anyway. The irony is that handles are usually a

big transmitter of bugs but PullClean can help stop them in their tracks and drive down unnecessary, expensive, and harmful infections.”

The design is simple – a tube-shaped cartridge is placed in the centre of a hollow door handle, which releases a small amount of sanitiser when a blue paddle button is pressed. Each handle includes a monitoring system that records a variety of data, from how much sanitiser is left in the handle and when the cartridge should next be changed, to hourly usage stats compared to how frequently doors are opened. For healthcare settings this can include hand sanitisation rates across wards, shifts, and even entire hospitals.

Since November 2016, PullClean has already been used in the US by organisations including Hilton and Marriott hotels, as well as a number of hospitals, care homes, doctor surgeries, restaurants, and universities.

Altitude Medical is based in Oxford and has an office in Chardon, Ohio in the US. The company says it is ‘dedicated to making hand hygiene simple and trackable through innovative designs in order to reduce the incidence and spread of viruses and infections’.

PullClean was conceived by Dr Alex Oshmyansky who, while working as a junior doctor at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital was frustrated by unsuccessful approaches to encourage and monitor hand hygiene in the healthcare setting. In conjunction with fellow University of Oxford PhD student, Dr Jake McKnight, a product design engineer, PullClean was devised.

Dr Jake McKnight, BEng, MSc, DPhil, UK general manager at Altitude Medical, graduated with a BEng(Hons) from the Product Design Engineering course (IMechE, IEE) at Strathclyde University in 2000. He went on to work for engineering firms Perkins and Caterpillar before working for Medecins Sans Frontieres. His DPhil at Oxford University’s Said Business School concentrated on healthcare reform and hospital management.

Dr Alex Oshmyansky, Board Director at Altitude Medical, is also a Surgical Fellow at Harvard Medical School, following his DPhil at Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar. Dr Oshmyansky was a ‘boy genius’, graduating from his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry after only one year of study at 18 years’ old. In addition to his medical research, he is involved in a number of entrepreneurial schemes, including efforts to reduce the price of drugs and virtual reality filmmaking.


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