Rising Star Winner: Reducing healthcare-acquired infections is Chris Hermann’s passion

By Clean Hands - Safe Hands

We are pleased to announce that Clean Hands – Safe Hands’ Founder and CEO, Dr. Chris Hermann, was named the winner of the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “Healthcare Heroes” award, “Rising Star” category, on May 16, 2019. Here’s the article from the Atlanta Business Chronicle (original here):

The more often health-care providers clean their hands before and after every patient interaction, the fewer deaths result from infections. This is the message that Dr. Chris Hermann, CEO of Clean Hands – Safe Hands (CHSH), is utilizing advanced technology to spread in hospitals nationwide.

While in his dual degree graduate program, Hermann, 35, learned how poor hand hygiene contributes to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), and he set out to solve this longstanding problem.

There are over 700,000 HAIs in the United States every year, and 75,000 patients die because of them. Additionally, HAIs cost the U.S. healthcare system approximately $30 billion annually, he said.

Hermann started and led a multi-institution collaboration that developed the core technology utilized by CHSH, an automated hand hygiene monitoring and reminder system for clinicians. Although the technology is advanced, the system simply reminds the doctors and nurses caring for patients to wash their hands to prevent spreading infections, utilizing sensors in small devices they wear and in hand soap and alcohol dispensers that provide real-time voice reminders.

“We have tripled our install base year-over-year for the last two years,” Hermann said. The company installs its system in a new hospital about once every week.

Hermann is the winner of the Rising Star Award, which recognizes outstanding health care achievement by professionals under age 40 in metro Atlanta, in the 2019 Health Care Heroes Awards sponsored by Atlanta Business Chronicle.

For the first 12 years of development, the research team, consisting of Hermann and investigators from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia Tech, Emory University School of Medicine, the Georgia Tech Research Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secured state and federal research grants totaling more than $3.2 million. They used the funds to develop the system and secure patents, and in 2014 Hermann licensed the technology and launched CHSH.

Nancy Osborn, manager of infection prevention and epidemiology at The Medical Center, Navicent Health in Macon, first met Hermann in 2013 when the CHSH product was in an early prototype stage.

“There were other electronic hand hygiene monitoring systems on the market, and we had looked at them,” Osborn said. “What stood out about Chris is that he listened carefully to the nurses and other staff as he developed the product. He was very focused on creating a product that would not only impact safe patient care, but that would also work for us. Alerts can be annoying and ineffective over time, but Chris’ gentle voice reminder recognizes the patient need for an uninterrupted environment as well as a sensitivity to healthcare workers who may forget to clean their hands.”

The company claims a 66.5 percent reduction in health-care associated infections in its last 14 hospital installations, according to a spokeswoman. That equates to ”about two infections per day and 2.3 lives saved per week,” Hermann said.

“I have always been a pretty driven person in everything I have done, but what really gets me out of bed every day is knowing that what we are doing is having direct patient impact and we are saving lives,” he said. “It has been a crazy journey up to this point but we are proud to see the fruits of our labor and all our hard work really paying off.”

Clean Hands – Safe Hands continues to refine its system. It is utilizing the product to provide data to health systems so the systems can implement new programs that result in better patient outcomes and in the development of interventions around workflow.

“Through the sensors that tell the providers to wash their hands, we get all this data around patient interactions that can be used in a variety of ways,” Hermann said.

Since founding CHSH, Hermann has mentored student groups from Georgia Tech’s business and engineering schools as well as companies in Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center.

Hermann has a doctorate degree in bioengineering, a master’s in mechanical engineering, a bachelor’s in biomedical engineering from Georgia Tech, and recently earned his medical degree from Emory School of Medicine. 

By Tonya Layman, Contributing Writer to the Atlanta Business Chronicle


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