How COVID-19 is Driving Changes in Hospital Safety Through Technology

Scott Heather, Vice President of Professional Services US, Bits In Glass COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on all of us, and it’s likely that many aspects of our daily lives will never return to “normal.” In the same way that we scoff at the notion of driving cars without seatbelts today, we’ll likely feel the same about many other previously normal things we did pre-pandemic. 

This will most certainly include the way we manage high-risk spaces where there’s close contact and a higher than average risk of infection – like hospitals, airports, retail stores, restaurants, gyms, and more. These spaces could require the addition of constant monitoring using sensors and IoT devices to track people, temperatures, movements, and items. This would make it possible to monitor environmental health risks in real-time.

This approach may sound extreme at first, but in places such as hospitals, it becomes crucial, because these spaces host vulnerable populations, infected individuals, as well as healthcare workers. The importance of keeping healthcare workers healthy has never been more top of mind. With shortages of masks, gloves, and other protective equipment, as well as international efforts to “flatten the curve,” we now recognize a critical weakness in the healthcare system as it has been forced to scale in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

Healthcare workers are the most likely to be infected with COVID-19 within a healthcare facility. Between February 12 and April 9, among 315,531 COVID-19 cases reported to the CDC, 9,282 or (19%) were identified as healthcare professionals. Additionally, 20% of positive tests in Ohio , have been healthcare workers. This can be especially dangerous because symptoms may not appear for up to two weeks, meaning healthcare workers can transmit the virus to non-COVID-19 patients who have pre-existing health conditions. 

Aside from maintaining a plentiful inventory of protective equipment such as masks and gloves, technological advancements can create “smart” hospitals with the ability to sense, analyze, and enable real-time human-machine collaboration to take immediate action on events. “Smart” hospitals provide a proactive and accurate way to maintain cleanliness standards, adhere to sanitation protocols, and monitor patients, employees, and assets to keep everyone safe. 

Stopping the spread

While COVID-19 patients in hospitals are often secluded to private rooms, they may need to be brought to other areas for imaging or other services, potentially contaminating other areas.  COVID-19 spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when the person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. These droplets can be inhaled by healthy individuals, but they can also land on objects and surfaces such as doorknobs and handrails, and it’s possible to become infected by touching these...