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Thursday, Jun 8, 2023

Getting In Sink on Cleanliness

We’ve all seen the signs in restaurant washrooms: Workers, keep your hands clean.

Hyginex, a West L.A. wearable technology firm, is taking that reminder to the next level. The startup is marketing a wristband that gives those workers a gentle buzz as a reminder when it’s time to wash up.

The firm said that it hopes its device catches on at restaurants, but more importantly, at health care establishments because the hand-washing regimen at hospitals could be improved. By some estimates, 100,000 people each year die from hospital infections in the United States.

Shiva Swami, chief executive of Hyginex, thinks many of those infections could be avoided if health care workers simply washed their hands more. It’s a personal issue for him, he said, because he lost his mother last year after she picked up numerous infections at a hospital.

“Hospitals are dangerous places to be,” he said. “This tries to change the behavior.”

Hyginex sells a package that includes connected wristbands and sensors that go on soap dispensers and near hospital beds. The soap is not sold by Hygenix, although it does sell soap holders. The wristband detects when a hospital worker, for example, enters a patient’s room. At that time, the worker would be reminded to wash. The device records how long the washing lasts and stores that data.

Hyginex is an offshoot of an Israeli company of the same name, which has worked with hospitals in that country. The company is trying to make its first deals in the United States and was awarded a U.S. patent for its wristband last month.

Deals work two ways. Hygenix covers the costs of installation at hospitals – as much as $30,000 for an intensive care unit – then recoups payment from the hospital on a monthly basis after it sees a decrease in hospital-borne infections. A restaurant will pay about $5,000 for installation and make monthly payments.

– Jonathan Polakoff

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