Each year, 722,000 Americans contract a Hospital Acquired Infection (infections gained at the hospital, unrelated to their original condition). 1 in 10 (75,000) die. That's the equivalent of a fully-loaded Boeing 737 plunging into the ground daily. 75,000 deaths per year is greater than the number of fatalities from automobile accidents, airplane crashes and firearms: combined. Excluding enormous social and emotional costs, the estimated direct losses and medical expenditures from 722,000 HAIs is $28-45 billion annually. Increased infection rates require overprescription of antibiotics, creating antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" that are one of the greatest long-term existential threats to humanity. Improved hand hygiene (HH) through the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers and manual handwashing is the most effective way of lowering HAIs and preventing deaths, yet HH compliance rates at hospitals are dismal: they average 40% across the US.
We have developed an extremely low-cost, highly effective solution: the Chrom Hand Hygiene System. In contrast to expensive and complex electronic monitoring solutions from IBM and GE, Chrom is a simple color-changing sleeve worn on the digits of healthcare professionals. Chrom uses an innovative hydrochromic low-refractive-index laminate which vibrantly changes color from dull white to vivid green when covered with a layer of sanitizer or water, visibly indicating that hands have been properly cleaned. In 10 minutes, the liquid evaporates and transitions to a dull white, signaling hands must be disinfected again.
The size and distinctive shape of Chrom immediately provides observers with an obvious and unmistakable indication of whether the wearer has cleansed her hands. Research has shown the most effective way to increase HH compliance is through the use of consistent and immediate feedback. Electronic monitoring solutions are opaque and disconnected from users, drastically reducing their effectiveness. The rapid and vibrant visual stimulus of Chrom provides instantaneous feedback to anyone who comes in contact with the user, in addition to the user himself. A supervisor can immediately discern the hand hygiene state of a room by quickly scanning the colors of Chrom sleeves; the identities of any offending users are immediately obvious. Feedback is provided in a fraction of the time required by competing electronic solutions, increasing compliance rates and drastically decreasing HAI deaths.
With the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives across the globe, Chrom is more than a product: it's a World Changing Idea. We hope you'll be part of the revolution.
Material Selection and Manufacturing Details: medical-grade polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) at shore hardness 20A was chosen for biocompatibility, high elongation at break and availability. Comfort was a priority when selecting material; a rough or hard material would reduce implementation rates. Medical-grade PDMS has a proven track record for safety and is extensively used in medical products. Hydrochromic white-to-transparent laminate was selected along with an unchanging bright green substrate. The laminate is safely used in consumer products, including toys and clothing, and is available at low cost with multiple transition durations.
Injection molding was selected as the production method due to a requirement for low unit cost (disposable for sanitary reasons) and a high quality surface finish. Suppliers have substantial experience forming medical-grade PDMS, which reduces lead time and results in high production yield. After forming, the green PDMS sleeve (substrate) is immersion coated in an ink containing wet-process finely particulate silicic acid pigment and dried, creating the low-refractive-index surface of the sleeve.
When covered in hand sanitizer or water, the opaque white surface layer becomes transparent, allowing the underlying green substrate to show through clearly. The sleeve appears completely green (signaling clean hands) for approximately 10 minutes. Once the liquid evaporates from the sleeve, it appears opaque white as the laminate transitions back again.