The PullClean device features a door handle with a built-in hand sanitizer dispenser.

Founders of a new company are banking that their product will encourage hospital staff to comply with hand-hygiene requirements by putting a reminder in full view and easy reach as they circulate on the job.

Jake McKnight, chief executive of Altitude Medical, Cleveland, and his company this month are scheduled to roll out PullClean, a combination door handle and hand sanitizer. He believes the product will offer hospitals a more viable and cost-effective solution to achieve compliance than other commonly used options.

A touch of the small, bright blue paddle at the bottom of the door handle ejects the sanitizer, soap or solution of a hospital’s choice as a staff member pulls the handle to open the door, he says. A refillable cartridge containing the sanitizer is inside the handle.

A key benefit of PullClean is its potential to remove any resentment caused by human or electronic monitoring, methods usually used by hospitals to “force” staff to comply with hand-hygiene rules, McKnight says.

“Our thinking is that if you make it obvious that staff should be sanitizing and you put the means to do so literally in their hands as they walk through the hospital, their desire to sanitize kicks in,” he says. “You’re not forcing them to do it and it’s convenient.”

A pilot study conducted at a radiology unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, gives McKnight and his company confidence that the product can have an impact on compliance. The hand-hygiene compliance rate increased from 25 to 77 percent after the new door handles were installed, according to the study, which was published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

“Having a good body of scientific evidence behind the door handle moving forward is important for us,” McKnight says.

The company also is working on the design of a handle with sensors that would keep track of the number of times the door handle is opened and how many times the dispenser is used, according to McKnight. The information could be downloaded onto a computer with a fob that retrieves the data from the handle.

He’s also working on developing distribution channels through which to sell PullClean in the United States.

McKnight’s background in product design and co-founder Alex Oshmyansky’s work as a radiologist were instrumental in PullClean’s development, McKnight says.

Altitude Medical was founded in Oxford, England, in 2007 and includes three other executives with product development or health care expertise.

“The health care industry knows HAIs [health care-acquired infections] are a huge problem and doesn’t have a solution,” McKnight says. “We’re not going to solve HAIs, but we can increase rates of hand sanitization.”