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Clean Escape: Recovering from the flu and adoption of innovation

November 3, 2009
by Joe Bormel
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Like lots of my friends, relatives and readers, I'm recovering from "The" flu. Two weeks ago, I visited the Udvar Hazy Air and Space Museum, just outside Washington DC at Dulles Airport. There, I saw a lot of innovative aircraft with amazing histories. Pictured above are the Enola Gay, the Enterprise, and the Blackbird, each of which traveled at amazing speeds with remarkable cargo. It was at the museum that I saw, on exhibit in the bathroom, some other modern healthcare technology, the "Clean Escape."

This much smaller piece of modern technology, the Clean Escape, is designed to stop the movement of flu related cargo from traveling at amazing speeds:

In case it's not clear from the picture, this is a "pull" door handle for bathroom doors, allowing people who have just washed their hands to avoid grabbing the same germ covered handled used by all other bathroom goers. Not all of whom wash their hands, ya' know. Shown here is me, openning a bathroom door by pulling with the top of my shoe.

In my travels, through lots of public places each week including TNTC airports and hospitals, I hadn't previously seen the Clean Escape. I have seen millions of bottles of hand sanitizer, aperating apparently from nowhere. Have you the Clean Escape (and if so, where)?



Thanks for your comment and lessons from your mom!

You're right about thinking like a blogger. It did help, however, that I was at a museum, prepared to take lots of pictures. I'm always aware that, if I do take a flash photograph in a bathroom, I'm at risk for being attached by anyone else in that bathroom!

There's been a lot of (appropriate) play, both here and at other personal improvement idea sources on the internet about Handshaking. The corollary to your experience is that now, after I wash my hands, I'm thinking twice about shaking hands with my freshly-washed hand. I think that could completely destroy the body language I might send to the person who is offering to shake mine.

It's a bizarrely mad world, getting stranger by the day.

So, it's settled.

When designing or re-designing important things that we do daily, like using the bathroom:

1) try to eliminate the doors all together.

2) where possible, design remaining doors to be push style, certainly on exit. Ideally, on entrance as well, since door knobs are well known to harbor disease causing germs, when coming or going (although going should reliably be post-hand washing.)

3) there are huge, low-cost opportunities to improve our world through simple changes in technology, communication, and process planning. And, ...

4) medication reconciliation is still hard.

Hi Joe!

I'll bet I'm not the only woman who would tell you she hadn't touched a public bathroom pull door handle since she was 5ish. It was right about then that my mother taught me the "grab a paper towel, pull the door handle open, wedge your foot in the open door, lean over and throw out the paper towel, use your shoulder to swing the door open" trick. Where you run into a problem with this is when the bathroom only has the air blower hand drying machine and then you have to go in emergency mode and grab some TP - this can be awkward.

Your Clean Escape solution looks like a great alternative, and I love it that you snapped a photo. The life of a blogger - your next post is always on your mind, isn't it?

I'll put you on my list of people it's safe to shake hands with - thanks! :)


After doing all I could to avoid the latest strain of dreaded germs, short of disguising myself as a member of a high risk group in order to get a flu shot, I was recently trapped on two coast-to-coast flights surrounded by a number of coughing, sniffling fellow passengers. I use the term "fellow" very loosely, because I, too, am currently recovering from "The" flu.

What a fun post! Not to be a killjoy, but it does tend to make one think about after-the-fact tech. The Clean Escape product is a good idea, provided you're not wearing expensive, well-polished shoes. But the fact that it's installed points to a lack of thought when the building was relatively new building was constructed.

The problem with germs on the door handles of public restrooms is not new. I have a friend whose husband has used a paper towel or tissue to open these doors for many years. I usually hook a little finger to the bottom of the handle to open the door. Not really effective, but it makes me feel more comfortable. However, I digress.

Anticipating this problem, not dealing with it after-the-fact, is the proper solution. All these restrooms need are two doors — an "In" door that opens in, and an "Out" door that, you guessed it, opens out. Use your shoulder, and you're in . . . or out as the case may be. How simple!

It's really too bad that too often we seek solutions to problems that could be largely avoided had we applied common sense and a few extra bucks to begin with. I can certainly see numerous parallels in healthcare, particularly HCIT. Can you?

Get well soon,

Thanks for your insights.

You're right. There are a lot of public bathrooms that have either eliminated the need for doors through tucked hallways, or used the push-style, separate exit door.

As you know, I'm always one to answer a rhetorical question. So, yes, I can see a big ones with HCIT. The way we go about electronic medication reconciliation would be the biggest. This will become increasingly apparent as the ARRA certified product concept demands degress of interoperability that have defied noble attempts many times in the past.

There are still a lot of public restrooms that would get a terrific, inexpensive upgrade from a Clean Escape. And, probably a few clean escape analogs in our HCIT worlds, if, as you suggest, we stop and apply some common sense.

I could not agree with you more when it comes to reconciliation.

You have a common sense approach to HCIT and work in the middle of the fray. So can you give some insight to when we will finally begin to see at least a solid, preliminary definition of interoperability from the powers that be?

Interoperability is of critical importance and should have been resolved by now, instead of remaining a festering source of frustration that casts doubt on the long-term viability of many systems. Thanks,