healthcare apps

Healthcare Apps: Innovation and Infection Control Can Work Together

Did you know that one in six mobile devices are contaminated with fecal matter? Now, that’s just gross.

This finding comes from a study that discusses how E.coli can survive on your hands for hours while spreading to the surfaces that you touch every day. Plus, these bacteria thrive in warmer environments (think a phone inside your pocket). Furthermore, if you contaminate your phone, then wash your hands and re-touch your phone, there’s a strong chance you just re-contaminated your hands.

We touch our phones about 2,617 times a day. That’s 145 minutes per day spent on a device. And according to the same study, 52% of the times that we use our phone, we use it for an app.

Apps In and Around the Hospital

These two trends bring us to an interesting conversation: apps in healthcare.

Out of the top 100 “touchiest” apps, those related to health were ranked third highest in terms of the number of touches per sessions. Apps are disrupting healthcare around the world and changing the way nurses, physicians and patients structure their professional lives.

An example of an app doing just that is Figure 1 (shout out to another Canadian start-up!). The app is used by over one million physicians and medical students worldwide. It allows them to take anonymous photos of medical conditions, ask for input from other physicians, and crowdsource a diagnosis.

This is a great example of an app that is breaking down barriers between facilities and physicians to improve upon the care that patients are receiving. The use of these mobile health technologies is only growing as the insight they are bringing to hospitals is invaluable.

But as the use of apps such as Figure 1 continues to grow in hospitals, we need to be sure that nurses, doctors, and patients are mindful of keeping their hands, and their devices, clean.

A recent study demonstrated how the presence of more people – and the mobile devices they carry on them – dramatically increased the amount of bacteria in the overall environment.

This is not a new or earth shattering discovery. Doctors and nurses are aware that these phones are dirty, however these apps add value to their profession and to the lives of patients, so they’re keeping them around.

Any solution to this problem has to empower the use of these mobile devices (and apps) without interrupting workflow. The solution does not lie in trying to ban mobile devices, as some NICUs and ICUs have done out of desperation (and to little effect).

What is realistic, however, is getting people to sanitize their phones when they wash or sanitize their hands. This is especially true as people enter a unit, exit a change room, or enter the hospital itself. After all, if you wash your hands multiple times a day, why don’t you clean your phone?

This is what we are focused on at CleanSlate UV: giving staff and visitors a way to sanitize their phones and tablets throughout their day, and thus reduce the spread of pathogens through hand held devices. 

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