Mobile technology has taken on a much greater importance in the delivery of healthcare in recent years. This surge has brought with it growing concerns about infection risks associated with smart devices, like phones and tablets, and other handheld electronics.
An article in McKnight's Long-Term Care News examines the challenge of cleaning these devices, noting that they can carry germs, such as "surface-clinging bacteria that can live for weeks if not properly treated."
This challenge is by no means exclusive to long-term care settings. Examples of mobile technology in use at many different types of healthcare organizations, such as hospitals and outpatient centers, include mobile carts that allow clinicians to access electronic health records from the patient's bedside; remote monitoring and wearable devices; apps that can help clinicians with everything from clinician-decision making to medication reconciliation to communications to training; and smartphones with music to be played in operating rooms for surgeons.
Unfortunately, numerous studies (such as this one) have found that such devices are frequently contaminated and rarely cleaned and disinfected after handling.
One critical step for organizations to take, according to the article: "… mobile electronic devices should be addressed in policy as would any other reusable equipment — such as IV poles, wheelchairs or blood pressure cuffs — or any electronic device mounted in a resident's room."