Robotic Solutions: Automating Sterilization Processes in Hospitals
Covid-19 taught humanity a lot of things, but perhaps the most simplistic reduction of all that transpired during that time is the importance and necessity of industrial hygiene. As the world quickly has become reintroduced with the seriousness of the implications of how germs spread, the reality of the multiple means by which that occurs was sobering.
Whether airborne or transferred by indirect or direct contact, all germs need is a host body to transport them from one place to another. Just like a seed caught in the flank of a deer passing through the woods to be dropped in a field, a single handshake can leave contamination on door handles, phones, and pens. These are now well-known truths, and the public may be much more cautious and aware of how to conduct themselves in public spaces so as to be sensitive to observing these laws of nature, but that will never entirely resolve the problems.
When it comes to places of high public traffic— supermarkets, post offices, courthouses, and public transport— there will always be a measure of contamination and risk that is simply acceptable. People know the risks and take them. However, there are places in society, in certain industries, where those levels of protection and intervention need to be much more intense and intentional. In such cases, the room for error is just too high. One such place is medical institutions.
The medical field has always been an industry that takes its place at the forefront of the halls of invention and innovation. The ability to serve and heal the public demands it. While there have been and always will be a host of innovations that are gradually cycled into the productivity that grace the halls of healing to support and enhance the hands of medical professionals, more is needed.
At the forefront of those efforts of researchers, scientists, and engineers working to support this noble art of human health care are the efforts to create and perfect sterilization processes in hospitals.
A Brief History of Sterilization
The common knowledge of even the existence of germs is, in the grand timeline of human history, a quite recent discovery. With its cultural adoption as a fact, hospitals needed to figure out what to do to aid their healing efforts.
Up until the last few decades traditional hospital environments were cleaned and disinfected through manual efforts. This has included chemical spraying, manual wiping, and eventually the introduction of ultraviolet irradiation. While there are hundreds of chemicals that have been created and utilized to keep things clean, there are a number of chemicals that have also been shown to be, ironically, unhealthy for humans. There are irritants and chemicals which have proven to be terribly hazardous even if used responsibly. Accidents happen, and those persons handling the substances have been harmed because of it.
Ultraviolet lamp disinfection processes, many requiring manual operation, are also limited in their ranges. Often only remaining effective within a range of under 1 meter.
Additionally, areas where the light cannot reach mean that there will be spots that remain contaminated. There is another process, air disinfection, which while measurable and effective, requires complex and expensive systems.
On top of this, most of these purification systems are fixed locationally and require very involved installation processes. Something better has been needed. Fortunately, advanced AI technologies are impacting nursing and are making that a reality.
The advancements which have been made available to the public have become quite advanced in recent years and as a result, nonconstant operations without crews have become a workable reality. Robots have begun to perform much of the environmental disinfection required for hospitals. As a result, not only are things cleaner but they have reduced labor costs while increasing efficiency and safety for workers and clients.
Through the use of visual sensors, imaging recognition, and even programmable target scenarios, much more can be well maintained. Typically, such robots have the ability to automatically identify targets, distinguishing between selected objects. Depending on what is identified, a variety of methods can be employed to disinfect the environment, tools, or surfaces. Many of these targets tend toward high-traffic areas such as operating table cabinets, in which specific programmable disinfection programs can be created.
Things like close-distance disinfection in combination with ultraviolet radiation do a much more effective job, typically for less cost in the long run, than traditional manual methods. Robots accomplish this through tools like map building, which can instantaneously locate a programmed target through the use of different sensors. Intelligent data processing capacities enable robots to navigate complex environments and tasks with accuracy, while still working freely to respond to changing scenarios regardless of the environment or the institution.
Some robots have high-definition cameras which create a type of vision algorithm that aids in its ability to identify select targets. These are performed while also seeing to the performance of safety tasks, making task notes, and even keeping track of work delays and interruptions.
The medical world will always need the ability to clean and disinfect surfaces so as to maintain an acceptable level of health throughout various departments that make up the complex systems of healthcare institutions. As mankind has progressed the level of need and technological innovations have created whole new industries that are creating systems and solutions that are effectively seeing to the disinfection processes which have, for decades, been the task of trained workers.
This process is neither cost-effective nor problem-free. Loss of time, emergency situations, distractions, pressing needs, and chemical irritants, are just a few of the problems that accompany the use of manual labor. However, the influx of technological advancements has led to the rise, and rapidly cost-effective solutions which are inherent to the use of environmental cleaning robots.
The intelligent processes that these advanced robotic algorithms apply to any number of tasks are revolutionizing the medical industry. These robots intelligently disinfect things while easily compensating for the many shortcomings that exist in the use of other methods.
The reduction of contact between medical personnel means that there are more medical professionals left to attend to more pressing and detailed tasks that robots are not yet trained to handle.