How GOJO Industries, inventor of PURELL Hand Sanitizer, helps hospitals monitor hand hygiene with secure IoT dispensers

GOJO Industries may be best known as the inventor of PURELL Hand Sanitizer, but the Ohio-based company is also a growing digital innovator in public health. In recent years, the company has deployed about 25,000 connected dispensers that help more than a hundred health care facilities monitor hand hygiene, a simple, effective way to prevent infections.

Traditionally, human observers tracked hygiene compliance in health organizations by watching if you washed your hands when you were supposed to. PURELL SMARTLINK Technology, a set of technology solutions from GOJO, streamlines that process with motion sensors, internet-connected dispensers and a cloud platform that collects and analyzes data.

The system’s infrared sensors detect hand-cleaning “opportunities’’ – every time someone goes in and out of a patient’s room, regardless of whether it’s a health professional or family member. Connected PURELL dispensers detect soap and sanitizer use, a recommended practice before and after seeing a patient. All the data funnels into an easy-to-use analytics portal, a helpful tool powered by the Microsoft Azure IoT platform for health care facilities that monitor thousands of dispensers and millions of “opportunities” a month.

Two health care workers look at a computer screen
Health care professionals look at hand hygiene data with a PURELL SMARTLINK Technology solution.

“Being able to quantify behaviors helps you understand your baseline for implementing interventions. At the end of the day, it comes down to trying to reduce the spread of disease through hands that aren’t clean,” says Jason Slater, technology solutions architect for PURELL SMARTLINK Technology.

One customer, a large health organization, saw an 82 percent increase over baseline in its hand hygiene compliance rate during an 18-month period of working with GOJO. “It’s all been pretty positive results,” Slater says.

Launched in 2012, PURELL SMARTLINK Technology is now undergoing an upgrade with Azure Sphere, a solution that enables highly secured, connected devices powered by a microcontroller unit, a small computer on a chip.

Announced last year, Azure Sphere will deliver end-to-end, internet of things (IoT) security for GOJO’s connected dispensers, which often become network endpoints in hospitals. The company is committed to comprehensive data security for customers and says it has never had a data breach with its devices.

“We work hand-in-hand with hospital IT staff and take a defense-in-depth approach,” says Slater. “We use best practices for security up and down our stack. Azure Sphere will allow us to really button up that last leg of our stack – hardware – to ensure we have the best protection against any potential security risks.”

The re-architecture continues GOJO’s innovative work with Azure IoT Hub, the cloud platform enabling PURELL SMARTLINK products. The platform’s “ready-built, command-and-control capabilities” allow GOJO to focus more on business use cases and less on technical “plumbing,” says Slater. “IoT Hub has been a great thing for us,” he says.

Recent innovations include a new system available this year to monitor hand cleaning of individuals and job roles. Instead of aggregating data of everyone going in and out of patient rooms, the solution will associate hand hygiene with employee badges via Bluetooth communication.

Health care worker in scrubs washes hands at a sink near a soap dispenser
A health care worker cleans her hands with a PURELL SMARTLINK solution.

“You can see how individuals or specific job roles are performing, whether it’s nurses, doctors or physical therapists, to improve coaching and interventions,” Slater says. “It was borne out of us listening to customers and their evolving needs.”

The system highlights GOJO’s continuum of solutions for different customers, including a solution that sends predictive alerts on refill and battery levels. The alerts help hospitals ensure product availability in critical hand hygiene moments.

The individual-monitoring solution also showcases the culture of ongoing innovation at GOJO, founded in 1946 by a couple that invented a waterless hand cleaner for factory workers.

“Technology can be an amazing enabler of all sorts of great services,” Slater says. “Ultimately, we’re always looking for a unique way to drive the GOJO purpose of saving lives and making life better through well-being solutions.”

Top photo: A nurse sanitizes her hands with a PURELL SMARTLINK solution before seeing a patient. (All photos courtesy of GOJO Industries)