CloroxPro Blog – Professional Cleaning and Disinfection Insights

A blog filled with industry insights from experts devoted to public health awareness, infection prevention, and the role of environmental cleaning and disinfection, to promote safer, healthier public spaces.

The Future of Technology in Environmental Infection Prevention

Non-Healthcare

In a recent CloroxPro webinar, “Environmental Infection Control – A Peek into the Future?,” our team explored how new and emerging technologies may impact and evolve the future practice of environmental disinfection. As we think about this future, it’s impossible to ignore how technology that enables connectivity is changing the way we do most things — how we shop, how we socialize, and most recently the way we work. The COVID-19 pandemic proved that remote connectivity can ensure improved health and safety during times of public health crisis. This technology of connectivity is referred to as the “Internet of Things” (IoT), and it may possibly change the future way critical pain points are solved in environmental cleaning and disinfection.

What is IoT? IIoT?

The Internet of Things is defined as the networking capability that allows information to be sent and received from objects and devices (such as fixtures and kitchen appliances) using the internet.1 When many connected things can in turn connect to each other without human interaction, that is defined as the Industrial Internet of things, or “IIoT.”2 IIoT unlocks the ability to shift from manual labor to digital process, which can drive new efficiencies and create new roles for humans (operator vs laborer) and machines (autonomous robots, artificial intelligence).

Why does this matter? COVID accelerated IoT adoption. We are now in a connected world, and it’s not going back to analog. COVID’s increase in IoT adoption resulted in exponential growth across most industries, pushing down technology and sensor costs which were previously a barrier to entry. This equated to humans and businesses experiencing the value of connectivity and how it could improve their ways of working and business outcomes.

How can IoT solve for pain points and drive better outcomes in environmental cleaning and disinfection?

  • Inconsistent practice. Environmental and asset tracking sensors can measure basic data (occupancy, air quality) to proxy when and where maintenance is needed vs a schedule-based workflow. Given the labor shortages in the current world, this it’s a huge asset to flex your human power to focus on where effort is needed most such as manual cleaning & disinfection.
  • Human Behavior. We already see and know the benefit of electronic hand hygiene monitoring platforms that measurably reduce HAIs and drive compliance. But what about sensors on mobile equipment that detects whether a surface has been cleaned or disinfected? 
  • Staff Shortages. Sensors that automate medical storage temperature checks saved the UK national health service 10k hours of nurse time.3
  • Time Shortages. Tracking expensive or critical medical equipment or inventory that gets “lost” can be a huge pain point that costs operational, staff and patient time. By using RFID tagging to quickly locate and optimize workflow, technology can drive new efficiencies that help reallocate staff time to more important tasks.

Key Takeaway: Overall, technology can elevate employee experiences and drive cost efficiencies by reducing the labor needed to monitor and track compliance. The result of which could: 

  •  Reallocate human staff to devote more time to patient care and infection prevention and control activities.
  • Increase budgets by savings tied to reducing HAIs
  • Build public reputation and patient and employee safety ratings

Environmental infection control can benefit from connected technology, and it will likely define the future process and protocols.

References

1. Dictionary by Merriam-Webster. Internet of Things [Internet]. Available from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/InternetofThings
2. PTC Inc. What is IIoT? [Internet]. Available from: https://www.ptc.com/en/technologies/IIoT
3. Disruptive Technologies. Infogrid Helped NHS Save 10,000 Hours of Nurse Time in a Year – Open Access IoT For All Healthcare [Internet]. [cited 2021 Aug 30]. Available from: https://www.iotforall.com/infogrid-helped-nhs-save-10000-hours-of-nurse-time-in-a-year