The rise in digital healthcare devices needs safe storage
The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for frontline healthcare staff to operate in the most productive, safe and flexible way possible. Hospitals across the world have had to completely rethink their model in order to accommodate unprecedented numbers of intensive care patients.
This has led to an increased use of portable devices and telehealth solutions to keep both patients and clinicians safe from infection. PowerGistics aim to help this new way of working by ensuring information is stored securely and devices are always charged when they're needed. The US-founded company build storage towers for laptops, tablets and mobiles that are used in the workplace, with a particular focus on healthcare.
"PowerGistics came about as a response to satisfy a need" explains the company's President Nathan Roberts. "An IT director of a school in south central Wisconsin needed a device charging unit that took up minimal space and could organise the charging cables. When he found nothing on the market, he approached G.D. Roberts, a fifth-generation family-owned business established as a blacksmith shop in 1870. The team and I came up with an innovative and modern design that would fulfill this request. Since our start, we have been solving complex problems with simple solutions."
Shortly after they launched products for education, Google discovered their towers and, after asking for a specific design from PowerGistics, instituted their Grab and Go Program. They now have a PowerGistics Tower in nearly every one of their offices around the world.
When it came to developing solutions for the healthcare sector, they needed to come up with a solution that would help them work as efficiently as possible. "Healthcare professionals are finally getting the level of recognition they deserve – and have rightly been lauded as the heroes of the pandemic" Roberts says. "But they need help to run efficient and effective workplaces, providing the best possible patient care."
"With the growth of mobile devices being used on the frontline we have discovered that, lacking proper storage for laptops and tablets, these devices often end up in a drawer or cupboard at the end of the day."
"Having inadequate charging and storage space for technology devices means they are set down and charged wherever one can find a plugin, or space enough to set them on a counter. Often, they are locked in a cabinet overnight, and brought out during the day, charged in random places."
Not storing devices properly can lead to damage, and if they're not charged this will cause problems for staff throughout the day. Powergistics' vertical towers have up to 20 shelves for standard size tablets. There is also a range of towers that provide storage and charging at the same time.
"Some healthcare facilities may store devices in a big, bulky cart, but have found them more frustrating than helpful. You cannot see inside, cords are too long and messy, devices are stored standing up, and the carts just take up too much space" Nathan says.
Roberts says COVID-19 has demonstrated some surprising benefits to using their products. "When the pandemic first struck in the spring, and large sections of hospitals were locked down, we donated PowerGistics Towers to a number of facilities in the UK. Mobile devices such as tablets were being used to help patients in quarantine stay connected with their families. Keeping such devices safe, stored and charged was helping keep families and friends together. That was a fantastic thing for us to be a part of."
The trend for moving away from using paper and towards digital information has also increased the need for portable devices, along with increased telehealth.
"We believe that, while much has been written about the need to digitise many aspects of healthcare, there hasn’t been as much thought given to the practicalities of rolling this out" Roberts explains.
"When adopting a mobile initiative in hospitals, healthcare professionals need to consider how they will store and charge their devices, now and in the future. With the increased use of mobile technology, there must also be proper care for the technology. There must be a procedure for cleaning and organising the devices."
"It should include storing and charging devices in one location and wiping those devices down every time they are used. It should include keeping people two metres apart as they collect their device for the day and return it at the end."
He adds that another consideration should be locking devices away. "There is a fear of devices getting stolen, and with them patient information. This would lead to data breaches within the system."
"We recognise the critical importance of mobile devices in healthcare. With the adoption of proper safety protocols for those devices, the quality of compassionate healthcare for patients will be improved beyond measure."
Zoom enters the healthcare market - a timeline
Since the pandemic began Zoom has become an integral part of daily life for people working from home, as well as a vital tool for families and friends to communicate. However it's also been eyeing up the healthcare space since 2017, and following the boom in telehealth the company has been rolling out additional services. Here we chart Zoom's move into healthcare.
2011 - 2013
Zoom is founded in San Jose, California, by Eric Yuan, formerly of Cisco. He got the idea to create a video calling platform from his visits to his girlfriend while he was a student, which would take 10 hours by train.
A beta version is released in 2012, which can host up to 15 participants. In 2013 this rises to 25. By mid-2013, Zoom has 1 million users.
2014 - 2017
Zoom attracts investors, including Sequoia Capital, Emergence and Horizon Ventures. By January 2017, Zoom has a series D funding worth $100 million.
2017 - 2019
Zoom for Telehealth launches, including an integration with EHR system Epic. It has cloud-based video, audio, and content sharing features, a "waiting room" for patients, and can easily be integrated into healthcare provider's workflows.
In 2019 Zoom goes public, with its IPO rising 72% in one day.
As a result of the pandemic, Zoom gains 2.2 million new users, more than in the whole of 2019. On the 23rd of March alone - the day the UK lockdown was announced - the platform was downloaded 2.13 million times around the world.
Share prices rise to around $150, and founder and chief executive Eric Yuan becomes one of the world's richest people, with an estimated net worth of $7.9 billion.
Early security issues are addressed by encrypting data with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). By now the the platform allows 99 people to be on a call simultaneously
New features launch, including Zoom Home and Zoom for Chats. Throughout the year the platform is used to replace most kinds of real life events: work meetings, online classrooms, church services and social events.
Renamed Zoom for Healthcare, users can share secured video, audio, and content through desktops, mobile phones, and conference devices. As well as Epic, it can be integrated with Strmr, IntakeQ, and Practice Better.
It can also be used with diagnostic cameras and other point-of-care devices, including digital stethoscopes.
In an interview with Korea Biomedical Review, Zoom Global Healthcare Lead Ron Emerson said: "Our service is not simply a virtual care and telemedicine platform but a multi-purpose platform that can satisfy the needs of healthcare institutions."
"It can be used for administrative tasks, including telemedicine, medical team meetings, recruitment, medical education, employee training, and disease prevention. Analysing electronic records managed by Zoom could provide meaningful insights into patient care."
Phoenix Children's Hospital, Belfast's Hospital Services Limited, Butler Health Services and the global Project ECHO are among Zoom for Healthcare's current customers.