Could Cell Phones be the Next Infection Control Outbreak Waiting to Happen?

The rapid growth in the availability of smartphones has not only revolutionized society but also the way we conduct business, especially in medical offices and hospitals. In the landscape of healthcare, one of the biggest issues within a facility is minimizing infection and the risks to healthcare workers, patients, and visitors. Bringing personal smartphone devices from home into a facility is not as cut and dry as improving efficiency or simply allowing the use of personal devices. 

Encouraging staff to utilize their personal equipment increases the risk and impact of secondary infections (HAIs) contracted as a result of attending a healthcare facility. This risk must be mitigated by implementing disinfecting rules for personal devices or banning them altogether. Personal devices may be convenient for employees, however, the increased risk is not worth the reward in many cases, as personal devices are not built to be antimicrobial. 

The evidence is overwhelmingly concerning the level of contamination with healthcare-associated pathogens on mobile devices, and the lack of concern regarding their cleaning and sanitization. While this remains the case, and with the ever-increasing rate of implementation of mobile devices in the healthcare environment, it is essential that the potentially disastrous trend of BYOD is addressed.

A study by Heyba, et al. in 2015 found that out of 213 mobile phones being used by clinicians in intensive care units (ICUs), pediatric intensive care units (PICUs), and neonatal care units (NCUs). Out of 213 mobile phones, 157 (73.7 percent) were colonized. 

While many organizations within the healthcare field have not budgeted for the investment to replace or provide devices that meet the standard of care in healthcare, a resolution needs to be found. Medical tablets and medical cart computers could very well be that solution. While this is still an investment, the reduced risk for secondary infections from a personal device and the improved productivity that comes from medical computing devices designed for the roles and responsibilities of healthcare professionals mitigate the number in terms of dollars. 

An investment in medical cart computers and medical tablets are the ultimate solution for infection control issues within healthcare facilities. Medical cart computers and medical tablets are antimicrobial computer systems that operate continuously with batteries that can be dynamically changed and offer capacitive touch screens and 8th  generation core i CPU, as well as integrated data capture options such as smart card reader, camera, and barcode scanner. 

Both are solutions that can be mobile mounted onto small-footprint carts that can be easily moved from room to room for optimal patient care, and the medical tablet can be easily removed from the cradle to be hand-carried as needed.  These multifunctional computers make data access efficient and easily accessible. They optimize staff workflow while minimizing the cost of ownership and are durable enough to withstand drops and extreme temperatures for the maximum life of the machine. 

The investment in medical cart computers or medical tablets is a venture that gives back, saving long-term costs of expensive batteries and reducing lengthy paperwork processes. Medical purpose-built cart-computers and tablets improve processes and efficiency of job requirements while reducing the risk of infection spread from personal smartphone devices.