May 7th, 2013
Posted by Patti Doherty, R.N.
When seeking healthcare innovations, it’s traditional to look first at basic science, then clinical research, or at engineers tinkering with new devices. But this view might be a little too narrow, as advances with the greatest impact may come from industries that have nothing to do with healthcare.
Take Purell, for example. Ohio-based Gojo Industries designed the now-ubiquitous hand-sanitizing gel for auto mechanics. And it was almost a failure; mechanics and consumers alike first rejected the product as a little strange, and nobody, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, originally believed that alcohol-based cleaners provided more value than plain old soap and water.
But Purell started to take off when nurses who used it in hospitals started requesting more samples. The nurses had been looking for an antiseptic alternative to stringent, frequent washing with soap and water, which was very tough on hands. Now, not only has Purell (and other alcohol-based cleaners) been approved by the CDC, it is selling by the hundreds of millions of dollars each year; Gojo even has a test hospital lab to find more uses for the cleaning gel.
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