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The Challenge

Improve hospital staff handwashing techniques to prevent unnecessary infections.


A 12-week trial at Northwestern Memorial Hospital showed a 64 percent increase in hand-sanitizer use, and SwipeSense was chosen as one of three finalists for 2013 Wall Street Journal Startup of the Year.

The Outcome

The SwipeSense wearable hand-sanitizing device.

Swipe Sense The Tube Final Product Render1 2x 43

Over 2 million Americans contract hospital-acquired infections (HAI), resulting in 100,000 deaths and over $30 billion in costs to the healthcare system per year. Experts agree: Simply improving staff hand-washing habits could prevent these needless infections.

SwipeSense, a healthcare startup founded by two Northwestern University graduates, aims to incentivize good hand-hygiene via smart, wearable alcohol-based gel dispensers that clip easily onto scrubs, with a web-based monitoring platform that records every time users disinfect their hands. Together with wall-mounted proximity sensors, the system wirelessly tracks hand-washing practices, allowing doctors and nurses to see and download daily, weekly, or monthly reports.

Swipe Sense The Tube Swipe Sense1 Photo Credit Northwestern Memorial Hospital

SwipeSense founders Iseri and Malina had developed a working prototype of the hand-sanitizing device and needed help pushing it to the next level. Together with IDEO, the teams evolved and refined the final physical and digital experience, and examined how an expanded data offering could provide added value to their business and the healthcare system at large.

After more than 70 design iterations, SwipeSense landed on the current sleek, modern, user-friendly design. The eventual goal: Make the patent-pending system ubiquitous in America’s 5,700 hospitals, much like wall-mounted hand-sanitizing devices are today—and save 100,000 lives each year.

IDEO encouraged us to incorporate the user’s perspective into every decision we make as a company, and every product we ship as engineers. This philosophy has led us to delighted customers, a more effective technology, and most important, a stronger business.

Yuri Malina, Cofounder, Chief Product Officer at SwipeSense, Inc.