Most of us have come to recognize that our cellphones are even more germ-ridden and disgusting that our toilet seats. That’s inconvenient at best when you’re out on the town, but the problem is even further exacerbated when you’re supposed to be in the more sterile environment of a hospital. Those pesky germs, bacteria and other scary microscopic organisms could quite literally mean the difference between life and death for patients and medical staff alike.

To combat this potentially nefarious situation, the CleanSlate UV Sanitizer was invented. What you see above is the first generation CleanSlate being used at a walk-in clinic in Canada. Basically, you stick your phone in there when you enter a hospital or clinic and it’ll zap your phone in a matter of seconds to kill all the germs on it. An iPad-sized second generation model is coming next month.

I had the opportunity to chat with company CEO and co-founder Taylor Mann, as well as with Junto Health Chairman and Sachs Policy Group Founder and CEO Dr. Jeffrey Sachs about the unique solution and how it could be quite literally saving lives across the country.

MEGATechNews (Michael Kwan): How does the UV sanitizer work? How effective is it?

Taylor Mann (CleanSlate): Our sanitizer works by using UV-C light, generated from six germicidal bulbs. The light operates inside a box-shaped chamber reaching 360 to clean any device placed inside it in just 30 seconds. To use the sanitizer, you simply put your phone, tablet or other portable electronic into the tray and close the lid. No training required. Additionally, we use RFID tracking technology to log when facility-owned devices are cleaned, automating compliance and auditing.

Our 2nd Generation device currently achieves a kill rate of 99.74% on C. Difficile spores, one of the most dangerous bacteria in hospitals and the most difficult to kill superbug spore. It will also achieve at least a 4-log reduction in MRSA, VRA and other superbug bacteria. This is 250x better than our closest competitor, with the tests being conducted by a 3rd party lab facility.

MTN: It seems it is being used more in a clinical setting at the moment. In what other environments has it been used? Are there other applications and partnerships you are currently exploring?

Dr. Jeffrey Sachs (Junto Health): CleanSlates sanitizer has a range of applications within the clinical setting. Because it can be staff focused, visitor focused, or both, its currently being used in every area of the healthcare facility from the ER and Intensive Care Units, to nursing stations and waiting rooms.

One of the interesting things about CleanSlates technology is that when you look at where the need for this type of device exists, its not just hospitals. Smartphones and tablets travel with us everywhere, so CleanSlate can be useful in any setting where sanitation is a priority. CleanSlate continues to seek out opportunities to expand their business, with a recent focus on the food processing industry. In fact, theyre currently running pilot programs in several food processing plants in Canada and New York State.

MTN: How did CleanSlate get involved in the healthcare industry? Where are the products currently deployed?

JS: Through the years Ive worked with a lot of tech startups in the healthcare space, so I know firsthand the difficult challenges these startups face when breaking into the industry. Given all the changes that are currently taking place in healthcare, and in hospitals particularly, its a disruptive time, and getting the attention of the large organizations is no easy feat.

I became a mentor for CleanSlate at a very early stage because I saw how their technology offered an easy solution to a serious problem in our hospitals, and the larger impact that breaking the chain of infection could have on our healthcare system. I worked with CleanSlate to provide guidance at the strategic level, and help them identify and build partnerships with leading healthcare facilities. They moved very deliberately to get pilot programs off the ground, and by June 1st they will have deployed their 2nd Generation technology into 9 hospitals, clinics and food processing facilities, including a major NYC healthcare system that will be conducting an academic study.

MTN: Like hand sanitizing stations, masks and other measures that hospitals employ, using the CleanSlate sanitizer is mostly voluntary (though recommended) on the part of visitors. Is there any way to enforce its use?

TM: People wanting to use the device it being a cool experience is incredibly important to us. Its one of the reasons we have made it so intuitive. In a number of our pilot facilities, cleaning your phone with the CleanSlate is something you must do in order to use your mobile device. Otherwise, youre putting yourself and others at risk. That being said, the fact that our device is a connected platform has enabled us to try a number of different things, including looking at tying visitor internet access to the use of the phone sanitizer.

MTN: What are the most common ways that contamination from phones and other mobile devices are affecting hospitals and similar settings?

TM: The simplest way its having an effect is delaying or halting the implementation of mobile device solutions. In order for a facility to bring a new tool into their workflow, whether it is a hospital, a food processing facility, or a school, they need to be able to answer the question how will we clean these?. Currently, tablet and smartphone manufacturers like Apple advise against using any chemicals to clean their devices, because they corrode the screens. So without our solution, you cant confidently say that these devices can be frequently, rapidly and effectively cleaned. Thats where we provide incredible value. We de-risk the use of these devices.

Interview: CleanSlate UV Sanitizer Obliterates Smartphone Germs in Hospitals and Clinics

The CleanSlate team (left to right): Taylor Mann, Scott Mason, Graeme Clark and Oleg Baranov

MTN: Is the UV sanitizer being used mostly by hospital staff or by visitors?

TM: It depends on where the device is placed, but the answer is both. Our solution is simple enough that anyone can walk up to it, instantly understand how its used, and safely disinfect their devices. It can be placed at hospital entrances, at nursing stations, in staff-only areas, or in other areas of concern.

MTN: What are some of the key advantages that this product has over disinfectant wipes?

TM: Our solution is faster and more consistent than wipes. Plus, we dont harm mobile electronics like the chemicals on hospital grade wipes do. Wipes are the current recommended practices, but essentially no one uses them because of the harm they do and how time-intensive they are. To properly use a germicidal wipe, you have to wipe the entire surface of a device down effectively, which leaves lots of room for human error, and then let it sit on a clean surface for 45sec to 3 mins. In cases where there is visible soiling (blood, for instance) you would want to use a mild electronic-friendly wipe before using the CleanSlate, but its only by pairing this with our solution that you get effective sanitization combined with fast, effective and non-toxic results.

MTN: How can hospital visitors and staff minimize re-contamination after using the UV sanitizer?

TM: A well crafted infection control protocol can help minimize re-contamination with any portable device. Through using the CleanSlate and effectively washing one’s hands you can ensure that the device does not become recontaminated with germs it has been exposed to. Nevertheless, should the device be exposed to dangerous pathogens (as it likely will be) simply using the CleanSlate again after exposure will ensure that chain of infection is broken.

MTN: How is this different than more consumer-oriented products from your competition, like PhoneSoap?

JS: Startup DNA is helping lead our healthcare system into the future, and there is no shortage of good companies out there, but I think the best technologies are those that are rooted in simple ideas. To survive, adapt, and grow in the infrastructure of a large industry like healthcare, these startups need to be nimble and flexible, and CleanSlate has that edge.

I think what sets CleanSlate apart from competitors is their relentless drive to refine, improve and learn. From their first product sketch to their 2nd Generation product design, they focused on building relationships and using customer feedback as the basis for all development. I believe it is this pattern of user focused development that will make the CleanSlate the standard in infection control for portable electronics.

MTN: What’s next for CleanSlate? What is the company’s vision for the next 5-10 years?

TM: Our vision for CleanSlate is for it to become a connected disinfection hub that can kill and trend pathogens. Mobile devices are going to explode in popularity over the next couple of years, especially in healthcare, and we are looking to become the hub through which all mobile devices in these facilities pass, allowing us to track devices, identify what pathogens are on each device we clean, and become a complete hub for personal sanitization.

Interview: CleanSlate UV Sanitizer Obliterates Smartphone Germs in Hospitals and Clinics

Taylor Mann (left) is CEO and Co-Founder of CleanSlate UV. The Toronto-based tech startup was launched in July 2014 by Mann and four of his fellow Queen’s University alumni.


Dr. Jeffrey Sachs (right) is the Chairman of Junto Health and Founder and CEO of the Sachs Policy Group. As a leading healthcare policy expert, Jeff works as an advisor to CleanSlate UV, among other emerging technology companies, to provide unique, personalized strategies to achieve success in the fast-changing healthcare environment.

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