Health Tech: Caitlin Stowe On How ActivePure Medical’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness

Luke Kervin, Co-Founder of Tebra
Authority Magazine
Published in
9 min readApr 28, 2022

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The technology must be safe and effective- on the curve of adoption, I tend to be a fairly early adopter, but I also need to be sure that the technology is safe and works. Having clinical data proving safety and efficacy is imperative to successfully implementing or trialing a technology.

In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Caitlin Stowe.

Caitlin Stowe, MPH, CPH, CIC, CPHQ, VA-BC is vice president of clinical affairs and medical liaison for ActivePure Medical and has multiple certifications in infection control, public health and health quality. Stowe has worked in infection prevention roles for the past 12 years and has worked in the healthcare industry for more than 20 years. Stowe graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida, then received her master’s degree in public health specializing in global communicable disease and is currently attaining her Ph.D. in health science from Nova Southeastern University.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?

I grew up surrounded by healthcare and science. My parents are both healthcare providers, my dad is an ER family practice physician, and my mom is a physician’s assistant, so I grew up immersed in the industry. I used to diagnose patients, my friends, on the elementary school playground, so healthcare has always been a part of my life. Before I went back to school, I taught high school science for a couple of years and have been an infection preventionist since 2009. Healthcare and science have helped me get to where I am today.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Having worked in infection prevention for almost 15 years, I have definitely seen my fair share of “interesting” situations and illnesses. One of the most interesting things that happened was when I dealt with an international measles exposure case from a person who flew from Europe with active measles. I ended up having to get my local health department involved to keep him here in the U.S. under quarantine, and then the CDC got involved in notifying all the passengers on the plane that flew over with him. So, it was a pretty busy few days.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My mom has always been my encourager, and even when I have doubted myself, she has always been there. She is the reason I went into education when I was unsure of what to do after graduating with my bachelor’s degree and the one that has encouraged me to pursue my Ph.D. and assisted me in my family life so I can meet those goals.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Not in doing what you like, but in liking what you do is the secret of happiness” is a quote that I try to apply to my life. Infection prevention is truly a passion of mine, and I’m so thankful to have stumbled into it back in graduate school. I’ve been able to work with so many intelligent, wonderful people dedicated to improving patient safety and health outcomes. Working with people who have a shared goal makes my job fun and rewarding, and I truly “like” what I do.

You are a successful business leader. Which three-character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

As an infection preventionist, you always want to establish credibility with your colleagues, patients and executives. The top three-character traits that I kept in mind throughout my career are perseverance, the ability to compromise and knowing when to say, “I don’t know.” It’s always better to admit that you’re unsure and let someone know that you need to do more research and follow-through than fake it. It builds a lot of trust and credibility with your peers, higher-ups, and patients

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?

The pandemic has really highlighted the impact that the air has on in the role of infection prevention and the spread of disease. In addition to improving air quality, ActivePure Medical is solving the economic and human tragedy caused by Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) in our healthcare spaces. Despite improvements to our cleaning and disinfection protocols, 1 in 31 patients still contracts an HAI, and nearly 100,000 die each year. This tragedy is caused by infections from our environment that can and should be prevented. This problem was made worse by the pandemic with overcrowded and understaffed healthcare facilities. ActivePure provides automated and continuous disinfection to the whole hospital reducing surface and airborne pathogens.

How do you think your technology can address this?

ActivePure Medical provides continuous surface and air disinfection to target pathogens in healthcare settings. Our ActivePure Technology utilizes chemistry, not chemicals, to create and disperse oxidizing molecules that continuously seek out and reduce pathogens in the air and on surfaces, like viruses, bacteria or fungi. The ActivePure Medical Guardian received clearance from the FDA as a Class II Medical Device in 2020. Since then, our team has worked with hospital systems and other healthcare providers to improve the environment of care and the entire facility by reducing pathogens in the air and on surfaces that can cause healthcare-associated infections.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

As an infection preventionist, my goal is to prevent anybody coming into a healthcare setting from getting an infection they did not already have. So, we are trying to prevent illness in our patients, staff, visitors, volunteers and everyone else that comes into the environment. Healthcare facilities focus on surfaces, with manual cleaning and disinfection, but sometimes that is not enough. Up until this point, there have not been a lot of emerging and innovative technologies that allow us to take the next step to provide better protection of surfaces and especially the air in areas used by patients and staff members. So, when I found out about this technology at first, I asked myself, “what the heck?” It was a different shift in changing the traditional way of thinking because air quality has not always been a big focus in infection prevention. However, the pandemic brought to light many areas that we previously overlooked, so this technology came at the perfect time. I became interested after seeing how healthcare facilities can use it to supplement the cleaning process that already occurs and make it more powerful and effective.

How do you think this might change the world?

Data has already shown the gaps in cleaning and disinfection. It is something that manual labor cannot overcome on its own, especially when you add in the labor shortage and increase in healthcare-associated infections during the pandemic. ActivePure provides an automated and continuous disinfection facility-wide that provides an added layer of protection against missed spots, contamination in between cleaning and disinfection, and airborne pathogens. Used in tandem with cleaning and disinfection, we can create an environment that does not contribute to harming patients and staff.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

The healthcare industry has studied the impact of the environment of care on the transmission of pathogens that cause healthcare-associated infections (HAIs.) It is known that you cannot disinfect what is not cleaned, and we will always rely on our environmental services (EVS) team to clean or manually wipe down surfaces. Studies with no-touch technology have highlighted that the Hawthorne Effect can occur with EVS knowing that a supplemental technology is coming in after them to disinfect. With ActivePure, we can utilize units installed in HVAC ductwork and out of sight, but the EVS team is still typically briefed on the continuous, whole-room disinfection technology that is replacing the labor-intensive supplemental disinfection technology they currently use. We recommend you continue to educate and monitor on best practices with cleaning and disinfection.

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)

  1. The technology must be safe and effective- on the curve of adoption, I tend to be a fairly early adopter, but I also need to be sure that the technology is safe and works. Having clinical data proving safety and efficacy is imperative to successfully implementing or trialing a technology.
  2. The technology must be practical- it’s always easier to get leadership on board if there’s not a huge implementation cost- whether that’s time, money, labor, etc.
  3. The technology must be cost-effective- to get any technology purchase approved as an IP, I had to prove that it would save time or money. For example, before I could implement an electronic IP surveillance system, I had to show my leadership that purchasing this system would free up my staff’s time. I had to show that the IP would be performing surveillance activities and allow them to be more present in the units and work on initiatives that would improve patient outcomes and potentially reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and improve reimbursement.
  4. The technology must be easy to maintain- similar to implementation, and optimally there should be very minimal maintenance of the technology. It’s easier to get the support teams on board if you show that their workload won’t significantly increase. Having semi-annual or annual maintenance is much easier than monthly or quarterly maintenance on the support teams.
  5. The technology must be environmentally friendly- with the increased focus on reducing waste, becoming more “green” and the ESG focus in general, it’s crucial the technology improves the work environment or doesn’t create additional waste for the healthcare facility to handle.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

I love to say the quote, “Be the good in the world you want to see.” My philosophy is to leave something better than when I got there, and ActivePure Medical does just that by improving the environment of care and reducing pathogens that can cause healthcare-associated infections.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

I know that this is impossible now, but I would have to say Sara Josephine Baker. She was the first woman public health officer who worked in New York City in the early 1900s. She vastly decreased infant morbidity and mortality rates in the city and helped catch Typhoid Mary to prevent further transmission of Typhoid fever. She eventually became a U.S. Assistant Surgeon General. I would love to sit down with her and pick her brain about her achievements and challenges in the medical field when women physicians were rare.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

For more information and to learn more about ActivePure Medical readers can visit our website, news page or resource page, or connect with us on social media: us on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.

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Luke Kervin, Co-Founder of Tebra
Authority Magazine

Luke Kervin is the Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Tebra