SureWash gamifies handwashing to fight Covid-19 cleanly

Irish augmented reality (AR) player SureWash launches handwashing app in response to Covid-19/Coronavirus pandemic.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, an Irish tech company has launched a hand-washing app to ensure health professionals, workers and the general public are correctly washing their hands to the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.

The app can be downloaded for iOS via the Apple Store and for Android via Google Play.

“Gamification helps learners stay interested and real-time feedback ensures correct technique. The final step happens when learning becomes so embedded that the behaviour becomes automatic”

SureWash’s interactive software system uses augmented reality and is a scientifically validated training technology for the WHO hand hygiene protocol. The company is a founder member of WHO Private Organisations for Patient Safety (POPS) which helps the WHO promote safe hand hygiene in Healthcare.

Practice makes perfect

SureWash uses live video to measure people’s actual handwashing technique and then gives real-time feedback on their proficiency. With repeat use, the user’s muscle memory learns the correct actions and the WHO standard of washing hands will become second nature to them.  Studies have shown that it takes about 23 practice sessions over two weeks to build the muscle memory so as to master the technique.

By gamifying the learning process, SureWash makes developing the muscle memory easier and more fun. Once the technique has been mastered hand hygiene compliance rates can increase by as much as 50pc.

A clean fight against Covid-19

Man in white shirt and glasses.

Prof Gerard Lacey, SureWash

SureWash was established in Dublin 10 years ago in response to previous global epidemics – such as SARS and MERS — as the WHO estimates that 50pc of infections could be prevented with better hygiene. But it is not simply enough to wash your hands, you have to do it correctly.

“We started by developing kiosks that hospitals used to train staff without needing to remove them from the workplace to attend training,” said co-founder and CTO Prof Gerard Lacey. “It also gives them access to instant data on proficiency in hand hygiene technique.

“Phase 2 was the launch of the app version. We use gamification and augmented reality to record the movement of the hands and give feedback on what they are doing correctly or incorrectly. Once they have done this process between 17 and 25 times, it will go into their muscle memory. The app tests your skills objectively as we can often convince ourselves we are doing it right but we are missing parts that harbour microbes.

“The messages currently going around about singing the Happy Birthday song when washing your hands or doing it for 20 seconds are a good first step as it is better for people to be doing something rather than nothing. However, we believe that if you are going to do it, you should do it right.

“The most common place for microbes to breed are on the fingertips, which are often missed when people wash hands. And we typically touch our faces, usually with our fingertips, between 16 and 20 times per hour.

“This should be a process that we continue during the regular flu season even when this pandemic is over. During flu season, one in three staff bring home the flu to their children. However, if we wash our hands regularly and correctly, studies have shown that we can cut the number of sick days by 20pc.”

The company is also warning against wearing jewellery or chipped nail polish at this time.

“A simple wedding band is alright but jewellery – such as engagement rings – that have crevices where the virus can hide – should not be worn during this time. Also, chipped or worn nail polish should all be removed. Nail beds are a hot bed for the virus and should be kept immaculately clean,” said Prof Lacey.

Gamifying the fight against Covid-19

SureWash, which is a spin-out from Trinity College Dublin, has already been working with 200 hospitals and a range of sports organisations across the world helping them implement hand hygiene training systems through the SureWash kiosks.

However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has now launched the SureWash Hand Hygiene app which is a replica of the kiosks used to train healthcare staff. The app was launched so hospitals can use this as a quicker extension of the training they were already engaged in.

However, it is also aimed at employers to protect their workplaces – especially those in the pharma and food-production industries — as well as showing the general public how to protect themselves from the coronavirus infection.

The company is working with The Learnovate Centre, one of Europe’s leading research centres in learning technologies, to develop new innovative ways of delivering its products. Based at Trinity College Dublin, Learnovate is an industry-led technology centre, funded by Enterprise Ireland.

“Successful learning happens when learners implement what they’ve learned in the real world,” said the director of The Learnovate Centre Nessa McEniff.

“Gamification helps learners stay interested and real-time feedback ensures correct technique. The final step happens when learning becomes so embedded that the behaviour becomes automatic.”

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 17 March, 2020