In hospitals around the world, there is a 7-10% chance for hospital staff and patients to catch an infection from other patients. As concerning as this figure is, it makes sense when you consider that hospitals attract patients with the most serious illnesses and most compromised immune systems. While the spread of the common cold in a hospital can be dangerous for the most at-risk patients, the possibility of spreading superbugs and antibiotic-resistant infections calls for developing new technologies and methods, like telehealth, for treating patients to reduce this risk.
Two Approaches: Telehealth and On-Site Technologies
To combat the risk of spreading the most dangerous bugs, a combination of two methods should be used:
On-Site technologies comprise a broad category that includes everything from irradiation with UV light and next-generation surfaces to traditional disinfectants. What all the approaches in the category share is the aim of eliminating contagions that have already spread from an infected person onto other surfaces. They can be tremendously effective at reducing the incidence of nosocomial infections, but it is important to recognize that any time treatment is conducted in a hospital, the risk exists.
Telehealth uses technology not only to prevent infection, but also avoid the risk of it happening in the first place. Through a combination of teleconferencing, messaging services, image and video sharing, and more, patients connect with medical specialists who can diagnose illnesses without sharing a physical space. Telehealth for ebola outbreaks and similar public health crises can be especially appropriate. This prevents hospitals from being turned into incubators of serious and contagious illnesses.
Combining the Two for Best Results
Each approach to reducing the risk of contagious diseases spreading throughout the public provides advantages, but they also have their drawbacks if used in isolation. On-site technologies, for example, simply cannot eliminate the risk of a medical professional or another patient contracting a disease from another patient. Unforeseen circumstances, human error, and the tenacity of microbial infections to develop resistances to antibiotics and other technologies are all real factors at play.
Telehealth, on the other hand, cannot be used in every situation. Many diseases can be diagnosed, courses of treatment recommended, and ongoing consultations conducted. Even within a hospital, telehealth can be deployed to improve sanitation by reducing contact with the most contagious or difficult-to-diagnose patients. Nevertheless, there remain many instances where a hands-on approach is required to effectively diagnose and treat patients.
By combining the two, medical professionals can drastically reduce the number of physical contacts with contagious patients, then minimize the danger of the contacts that are needed. This provides the best of both worlds and forms a comprehensive approach to hospital safety. Hospital workers can combine effective hygiene with the most current applications of nanotechnology, oligodynamic sterilization, and ultraviolet light to kill residual pathogens.
Public Health as a Public Service
Medical science has always relied on greater understanding of the causes and solutions to disease. Societies are most vulnerable to widespread infection when ignorance and a lack of resources cause infected individuals to spread diseases through larger populations. Using technology, we can reduce the spread of superbugs and other dangers to public health by improving telehealth diagnosis and treatment, as well as innovating approaches to hygiene in hospitals themselves.
This is a guest post credit to Jennifer Macdonald, a nutritionist with a background in biology. She is fascinated by the role of aging on the body. While weakening joints, loss of height, and thinning hair are inevitable, the rate of change can be slowed down with smart lifestyle choices. In the last few years, she has started work as a freelance writer. In her new role, she use her knowledge of health and fitness to offer advice to reader.