Computers on wheels: how are they becoming an essential part of telehealth and infection control?

Telehealth technology has been an interesting avenue of investment for many health professionals around the world. 

The benefits have been repeatedly highlighted, but recent concerns about the coronavirus have brought telehealth technology - such as medical tablets - back into the spotlight. 

Remote care doesn't always mean caring for a patient at home. In the case of a highly infectious disease, sometimes doctors and nurses need to administer care inside the unit without entering the patient's room. 

In some countries, some hospitals have adopted "direct triage" - the practice of classifying patients before they arrive at the emergency room using telehealth communication technology - in response to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

With this in mind, there are a number of telehealth technologies that can empower a hospital's remote care approach, both on and off its premises.

Among them, the computer on wheels is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment, especially in the event of an outbreak.

It becomes much more than just the trolley that offers benefits when telehealth comes to the fore: each component of a computer on wheels comes together to create a customized solution for every remote care need.

The Trolley

Computer trolleys make bedside and remote care more mobile. Many are designed to work with software that allows them to be controlled remotely. Using these trolleys, healthcare professionals can "roll" in cameras, computers and other telecommunications equipment and talk face-to-face - digitally with a patient without being physically close to them. 

This can not only provide personal interaction without associated risks, but also help save the time of healthcare workers who have to meticulously change PPE and sanitize before and after each interaction. 

On the topic of disinfection and sanitization itself, trolleys built with antimicrobial properties have also become an important part of infection control and the prevention of Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs). 

The Medical Computer

Antimicrobial trolleys can only help protect against the spread of infection if they are used in conjunction with computers medical grade - which provide high antimicrobial protection. 

Coupling a computer medical grade with an antimicrobial trolley, allows the computer on wheels as a whole to be optimized to fight bacteria. 

Without this layer of protection, bacteria can survive on surfaces for hours, days or weeks and infect staff and patients who touch the computer or trolley. 

It's important to distinguish between commercial computers and medical computers. It's also important to choose medical-grade devices with a discerning eye, as not all are the same.

Totally antimicrobial

Bacteria can survive on all kinds of surfaces. It's not enough to simply make part of the device antimicrobial. Everything, from the outer shell of a computer or tablet to the screen, needs to be fortified against harmful pathogens - especially if the device in question has touchscreen. 

Furthermore, in cases where remote care is required, it is very likely that disinfections will occur more frequently than usual. Hospitals should look for a medical computer that can withstand regular exposure to cleaning and washing materials. 

It's better to look for devices with antimicrobial properties built into the materials of the device itself, as these last longer and don't degrade, rather than computers with antimicrobial coatings alone, which quickly lose their effectiveness after being exposed to various disinfections.

Patient Safety Certificate

Computers medical grade need to be meticulously tested in order to obtain EN60601-1 certification. This certification guarantees that the device has no electromagnetic interference that could compromise the functions of other important medical devices. 

Designed to prevent infections

Computers medical grade support infection control in various ways. In addition to their antimicrobial properties, they are usually also fanless. Fanless computers prevent the spread of infections by reducing the possibility of bacteria being sucked into the computer and growing before being expelled again because of the fan. 

Peripherals

In a perfect world, patient care could be located entirely on a medical computer. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In many cases, telehealth patient care requires various tools and hardware which, fortunately, can also be equipped with a remote-controlled computer cart.

Tools such as vital signs monitors, digital stethoscopes and spirometers can also be attached to a medical cart computer, allowing workstations whose tools can be operated from a safe distance, enabling remote screening and testing.

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