Recognising the tech supporting the hardworking health sector
In the past , we have looked at the ways in which technology is changing the healthcare sector, however, at a time like this, with a global pandemic affecting millions of people, never has technology been so vital at trying to ease the strain on our hardworking frontline responders.
So how exactly is it helping?
3D printed equipment
The equipment needed to handle this pandemic is essential to anyone who works or is being treated in a hospital. Unfortunately, due to the rapid spread of this virus many countries have struggled with shortages of such apparatus as demand has surged.
This is where 3D printing has been able to help. In Italy for example, a 3D-printer company has designed and printed 100 life-saving respirator valves in 24 hours for a hospital that had run out of them. The valve connects patients in intensive care to breathing machines.
And in the UK, a scarcity of personal protective equipment, has been partly filled by 1,400 3D-printer owners , who have pledged to use their machines to help make face shields for the National Health Service (NHS). It is hoped that these measures will help protect healthcare workers and prevent them from having to put themselves at risk when treating patients.
Perhaps most impressively, a team in Spain has rapidly designed an emergency-use ventilator out of 3D-printed parts. The team has also already stated that the blueprints for these ventilators will be open source, meaning anyone in any country with a 3D printer will be able to make them.
This drive towards helping countries in need with new realms of technology is a great testament to the value we place on healthcare staff across the world and may fundamentally change how equipment is made in the future.
Robots reducing human contact and killing harmful microbes
There are numerous ways we have seen robotics help during the pandemic. In principle using robots is a great way to avoid workers having to come into unnecessary contact with people and places that may be infected. In addition, robots can be used to relieve exhausted health-care workers.
In China, where the virus first began, robots were deployed to deliver meals to travellers in isolation at a hotel in Hangzhou, as well as to deliver medical supplies. The robots – which have a cabinet built into it for carrying food – trundled through the hotel’s 16 floors to look after its occupants quarantined in their rooms, helping to prevent the spread of the disease by reducing human-to-human contact.
In terms of disinfection, Denmark-based company UVD Robots has created a self-driving machine that can kill pathogens and superbugs with a zap of ultraviolet light. The concentrated UV-C light emitted by the robots as they drive has a germicidal effect that removes virtually all airborne viruses and bacteria on the surfaces of a room.
The invention has been designed to increase the...