A modern healthcare facility cannot function without the involvement of computers. From surgical procedures like open-heart surgery to managing medical records, computers find their way into every department within hospitals and medical offices. Clinical healthcare IT (HIT) was estimated to have spent nearly $19 billion in 2015 alone in healthcare technology costs, with US hospitals planning to spend approximately $120 billion on information technology in the coming years. 

HIT can’t simply order items like an off-the-shelf consumer tablet from an online computer store. Healthcare facilities are unique environments. This is especially true for hospitals. Computers for medical use need to be imparted with certain physical attributes. Today’s blog post will be covering one of them: antimicrobial properties. 

Winning Germ Warfare 

Unsurprisingly, hospitals are full of sick people. That means there are a lot of germs to be found, from those floating around the ER to the surfaces of frequently touched items like workstation on wheels. There’s even a term for illnesses caught in a hospital: hospital-acquired infection (HAI). Thankfully, hospital staff spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing rooms and equipment.

This is one of the reasons why HIT should be looking for medical equipment with an antimicrobial surface. An antimicrobial surface helps prevent the growth of germs that can lead to HAI or at least severely inhibits it. A great example of an antimicrobial agent is silver, which is capable of reducing microbial activity.

Coats are Temporary; Housing is Forever

Even if it existed, the healthcare administration would be hard pressed to approve a system housed in silver. That leaves a couple of ways to make surfaces like a medical computer antimicrobial.

The first is an antimicrobial compound utilizing silver nanoparticles or biocides that can be coated or sprayed onto the surface of the medical grade equipment. This method has a huge disadvantage, though: it degrades quickly, usually over the span of a few months, especially with the constant disinfection required in a hospital setting. In the meantime, the coating flakes off when interacting with light. This has the unpleasant effect of shedding off microbes which is the last thing anyone wants in a hospital setting. Also, a simple scratch, nevermind a crack, on the housing creates an opening for microbes to flourish unimpeded.

The other way to render a device hostile to microbes is to infuse or “bake” an antimicrobial resin into the medical device’s housing. This “built-in” approach negates the numerous disadvantages of the spray method. The resin lasts much, much longer, and there’s no “shedding” under light and any subsequent microbes. Unlike coatings, the surface of the housing continues to be highly toxic to microbes and bacteria even if marred. Finally, the constant wipedowns of equipment by hospital staff will not wear away the housing’s antimicrobial properties. 

The healthcare industry continues to grow especially in reliance on technology. Thus it’s important HIT be well informed of its options when selecting equipment to meet the vertical’s unique needs. The experts at Cybernet will be happy to cover Cybernet’s medical computer line-up with antimicrobial housings and other related products.