One in every 31 patients contracts an infection related to a hospital stay, and historically around 10 percent of those patients die from the infection. The remedy can be as easy as washing hands. Ensuring that healthcare providers clean their hands frequently is the best way to reduce these infections.
After learning about this problem, Chris Hermann, who at the time was a student getting a dual degree (a PhD in Bioengineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and MD from Emory School of Medicine), made it his mission to do something about it.
Hermann is the founder and chief executive officer of Clean Hands – Safe Hands, an organization that provides an electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring systems to acute care hospitals throughout the nation.
Hermann initially thought hand hygiene would be a simple problem to solve, but he quickly realized it was massively more complex in a real-world clinical environment. Eventually they overcame this challenge by working closely with clinicians throughout each step during the development of both the technology and the process.
“With the help of these healthcare providers, we’ve figured out a way to use real-time data and interventions to drive behavior change,” he said. “And it works. In our last 15 hospital installations in a row, infections have been reduced by over 66% on average.”
In May, Hermann was awarded Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Healthcare Hero Award in the Rising Star category, an award Hermann said is very much appreciated.
“I’m humbled by the company I’m in,” he said, speaking of the other honorees in the category. “There are a lot of impressive people doing really important work that were also recognized.”
For others who may be thinking about a similar career, Hermann said that understanding the frontline clinicians’ day-to-day experience is the key to success for anyone who is thinking about developing a new technology, product, or process in the health care field.
For Hermann it’s about improving the statistics of healthcare-associated infections and making a difference.
“I love to come to work every day and know I’m part of a team that’s having a direct impact on reducing healthcare-associated infections,” he said. “We’re saving lives every day, not to mention human suffering and lowering health care costs.”
For more information, visit Clean Hands – Safe Hands.