Stage 4: Transition to Scale
Highlight was a grantee of the USAID Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge and has been field-tested in Liberia, Guinea, and Haiti for Ebola and cholera outbreaks. With three peer-reviewed papers published in top infection prevention journals demonstrating Highlight's efficacy, Highlight has been implemented on a small-scale by NGOs, laboratories, first responders, and government agencies for epidemic preparedness simulations, biosafety trainings, and routine decontamination in North America, Europe, and Africa. We have ongoing collaborations with NGOs, foreign governments, and hospitals to help bring Highlight to scale.
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Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Health
Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and HealthSEE LESS
Funds Raised to Date
Infectious diseases are difficult to kill and lead to significant morbidity and costs. During the Ebola outbreak, healthcare workers were 30 times more likely to be infected than the average person and constituted 1 out of every 20 deaths, setting back the healthcare system in West Africa by years. In the United States, 1 out of every 25 patients will contract a healthcare-associated infection (HAI), leading to over 75,000 deaths and costing the healthcare system >$28 billion each year. The problem is that disinfectants, which are used as the first line of defense to kill pathogens on environmental surfaces, are prone to human error and will only kill pathogens if used correctly. Unfortunately, disinfectants: 1) are transparent, making it impossible to ensure complete coverage on surfaces (it only takes 4 C. difficile spores to cause a life-threatening infection); 2) form droplets on waterproof surfaces and cover <33% of the surface area, leaving gaps in coverage where nothing is being killed; and 3) require a contact time to remain wet on a surface to inactivate the pathogen (3-4 minutes for C. difficile), but most people do not wait, erroneously wiping off the disinfectant or touching the surface before sufficient time has elapsed. Studies have shown that >50% of surfaces in healthcare settings are not properly cleaned, leading to high rates of infection.
Our solution is Highlight, a patent-pending additive combined with existing bleach disinfectants that colorizes them blue to ensure no spots on a surface are missed, modifies the liquid properties of the disinfectant to eliminate droplet formation and allow it to fully cover and adhere to waterproof surfaces, and which then fades from blue to clear to indicate in real-time when the contact time has been met and decontamination is done. Highlight allows even untrained personnel to immediately use a disinfectant correctly: simply make sure everything is blue and once the color is gone, you are done. Because it is just an additive, Highlight can be immediately integrated into healthcare systems to radically improve quality control and disinfection compliance while empowering healthcare personnel and patients to be confident in their safety. Studies have shown that improving compliance with using disinfectants correctly can reduce infections rates by as much as 80%. Although training is often lacking for proper disinfection technique, Highlight trains personnel how to decontaminate correctly every time they use it.
Highlighteliminates human error from surface decontamination to protect patients, healthcare workers, and the general public from infections. We envision a future where healthcare workers aren’t afraid to head to the front lines of the next Ebola outbreak and where a patient getting a minor surgery does not have to worry about contracting a life-threatening infection. Many other groups can also benefit from better disinfection practices, such as biosafety professionals, military personnel, transportation agencies, food sanitation companies, and more.
Mission and Vision
Highlight has two major impacts: 1) improving the efficacy of epidemic response by increasing volunteer turnout and preventing medical staff and patients from becoming infected, and 2) reducing the rate of infection (especially HAIs) in all healthcare settings by improving quality control and compliance when decontaminating surfaces. The goal of Highlight is that disinfection will be standardized globally without the need for drastic overhauls in protocol and new training to effectively reduce the spread of preventable infections and save countless lives.
Highlightcomes in pre-portioned bottles and pouches that are mixed into set volumes of standard, widely-used 0.5% bleach/chlorine solutions (i.e. sodium hypochlorite, calcium hypochlorite, and NaDCC). Highlight dissolves instantly, and the color will last in the sprayer or container for 5 hours, but will fade in minutes after being applied on a surface. Highlight is easy to implement as it is intended to be combined with existing disinfectants and sprayers, and there is no need for new equipment, training, or overhauls in protocol. Rather than competing with current products, Highlight bridges the gap between simply having a disinfectant and actually being able to use it effectively.
Highlight is the only color additive for disinfectants on the market and has no direct competitors. Rather than trying to replace existing disinfectants that healthcare settings are already using, Highlight is intended to enhance their performance and make them easier to use correctly by enforcing real-time compliance. Non-direct competitors include disinfection technologies such as electronic foggers and UV lights, as well as quality control devices like ATP bioluminescence swabs. However, these alternatives are expensive (a single UV light machine can run >$100k), require extensive maintenance (as much as $20k/year to maintain) and training (new workflows and protocols), and are not scalable (can’t use foggers and UV when patients are in the room, cannot swab every square inch of a surface with ATP devices for quality control). Most importantly, none of these alternatives replace the need for disinfectants; they are all supplementary and a disinfectant must first be used with proper coverage and contact time to remove the first layer of bioburden. Highlight can be easily integrated into existing workflows, provide real-time quality control monitoring that managers, health workers, and patients can all visibly see, and train health workers how to use the technology and disinfect properly as it is being used.
Planned Goals and Milestones
Currently working on implementing and scaling Highlight with additional NGOs, country health offices, and hospitals. We are actively seeking partners who can benefit from standardizing disinfection practices and training to prevent the spread of infection.