SwipeSense gets $9.6M for hand hygiene tracking system

By Jonah Comstock
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SwipeSenseSmart hand hygiene sensor-maker SwipeSense, based in Evanston, Illinois, has raised $9.6 million according to a new SEC filing. This brings the company's total funding to $12.1 million. The company raised $1.7 million last May. Previous investors in the company include Jumpstart Ventures and Healthbox, which counts SwipeSense among the graduates of its very first class back in 2011.

SwipeSense offers hospitals different kinds of hand sanitizer dispensers, including a wall-mounted version and a wearable version. The sanitizers are all connected to an app that automates the manual observation reporting and also analyzes the information. Everyone in the hospital also wears a smart badge, which records hygiene events and allows the system to track individual compliance levels as well as unit comparisons and historical trends.

“The idea is to provide incentives and instigate behavior change through real-time data,” Co-founder Mert Iseri told Crain's Chicago Business in 2013. “Employees can work towards their own goals and improvement.”

The company says its system increases hand hygiene by 64 percent for its users. Via Healthbox, SwipeSense had early trials with Northwestern Memorial Hospital, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Swedish Covenant Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital and Rush University Medical Center, according to a 2012 Crain's profile. SwipeSense charges clients $50 per bed plus another $99 per year.

SwipeSense estimates that hand hygiene costs hospitals $15,000 per year, so it's no surprise that various companies have dabbled in the hand sanitizer tracking space over the years.

In July 2010, Proventix Systems, a hand hygiene compliance monitoring company, announced a deal with machine-to-machine wireless vendor Synapse Wireless to add wireless connectivity to Proventix’s nGage system, which also aims to fight the spread of healthcare acquired infections (HAIs). The Proventix nGage system monitors hand hygiene compliance by asking healthcare professionals to wear ZigBee-enabled badges that are uniquely recognized by control units at soap dispensers throughout the hospital.

CIMIT, a consortium of hospitals and engineering schools in the Boston area, spun out the company HanGenix in October 2010. The startup’s technology automatically detects when a care provider uses a soap or alcohol gel dispenser and if they approach a patient’s bed without washing or sanitizing their hands. If a care provider fails to wash their hands before a patient interaction, the system emits an audible beep as a reminder.

More recently, a Czech company called Observe Design began working on a wearable, trackable hand sanitizer system called Hansure. In January, Observe Design graduated from the Microsoft Venture Accelerator in Tel Aviv. Another accelerator graduate, IntelligentM, came out of Blueprint Health in 2013 with a bracelet-based offering. The company “designs data driven hand hygiene compliance solutions” – essentially making sure hospital staff wash their hands as often as they’re supposed to, using smart bracelets that interact with hygiene stations in the hospital.