Imagine having a second set of eyes to ensure hospital environments are properly sanitized at all times. This could affirm that surfaces, equipment, and other devices are properly cleaned regularly, allowing for the utmost in safety for hospital staff as well as their patients. This second set of eyes, watching over hospitals and other sanitary environments, is already in development, and beginning to be used in hospitals is known as Computer vision.

Computer vision (CV) uses algorithms and mathematical models to process as well as analyze visual data entering a computer system as images or video. The system can then respond to these visual inputs down to the pixel level and perform a variety of tasks based on what it sees, in this case notifying staff that sanitation needs to be done, or of certain employee practices that are deemed unsafe. 

Applications of Computer Vision for Hospital Sanitation

One of the most critical aspects of sanitation within a hospital setting is hand hygiene. According to the CDC: 

  • Providers clean their hands less than half as often as they should be doing so.
  • Depending on their duties, providers during a 12 hour shift might be needing to be washing their hands up to a 100 times. 

Both cases can contribute to the spread of healthcare-associated infections and potentially affect 1 in 31 hospital patients in a day.

Computer vision technology has the ability to ensure staff are hand hygiene compliant. In one example utilizing this new technology, 16 depth sensors were installed in a hospital unit. These depth sensors were trained via a machine learning algorithm to detect levels of hand hygiene dispenser use. The results were then compared with what has been previously seen as the gold standard of monitoring, a human hygiene auditor. 

Their study showed that, when compared to a human auditor, the CV system was equally as efficient when detecting hand hygiene dispenser use. Additionally, the system allows for continuous coverage monitoring, allowing it to be more effective in that sense when compared to a human auditor. 

Computer Vision and High Touch Areas in Hospitals

High touch areas like medical computers, handrails, door knobs, and workstations on wheels, among others, are all potential areas for bacteria or viruses to spread. CV can provide vital real-time monitoring of these areas to spot when more frequent cleaning is needed by scanning for fragments as small as a speck of dirt. This can help managers to better evaluate the cleaning procedures they have in place and limit the risk of contamination for both their hospital staff and the patients. 

Computer vision has also been used to monitor the actions of hospital staff and visitors in a variety of ways to ensure safety protocols are being met. One example of this that has been used to improve hospital sanitation is to identify when safety protocols aren’t being met. CV can recognize when someone enters a room without wearing the proper protective clothing like a mask. By automating this monitoring process, the issue can quickly be addressed, creating a safer and more sanitary environment for everyone involved. 

How Computer Vision Can Identify Sterile Process Failures in the Operating Room

Within the operating room, stringent standards are put in place to ensure all devices being used are sterile. When these standards aren’t upheld, it can prove to be dangerous or even deadly for patients. For this reason, a high importance is put on sanitation within operating rooms. CV can track and monitor whether medical personnel are adhering to these standards and reduce the instances where process failures may occur. Even a small mistake in this scenario can result in grave consequences, as surgical site infections have a 3% mortality rate, nevermind that there is an associated cost of $3.3 billion annually according to the CDC. 

Privacy and Computer Vision

Privacy is of the utmost importance within the medical field. Computer vision can collect and process large amounts of potentially sensitive data or information, which is essential for healthcare providers to utilize these technologies. To achieve privacy compliance, there are a host of requirements that a CV must meet. According to the Machine Learning News Hub, these requirements include: software infrastructure with strong security measures and encryption; isolated network and server systems; unified access and authentication systems; and Zero-Trust Access Autonomous computer vision among others. 

Computer vision is poised to have a dramatic impact on a variety of aspects within healthcare. This new technology is already being used in medical imaging, surgical assistance, disease detection and prevention, as well as a host of other examples, but none may be more important than within hospital sanitation. 

Closing Thoughts

CV can aid in the integral practices of maintaining a sanitary environment with cleaning, using the proper protective equipment, and other applications. All contribute to the hospital becoming a safer environment for patients and staff alike, further improving the effectiveness of these critical areas. 

Contact an expert at Cybernet if you’re interested in learning more about the role of Computer vision in hospital sanitation and its many advantages.

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