A recent systematic review has highlighted the transformative potential of advanced technologies such as robotics and smart environments, for infection prevention control (IPC) within healthcare settings. However, the study also identified several issues that hold back the full-fledged integration of these technologies into healthcare paradigms, indicating an urgent need for greater awareness and accessibility across the globe.
Health care professionals working in IPC must be acutely aware of the potential pitfalls and possibilities of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Therefore, understanding the ways in which innovative technologies can empower their practices is vital. This review considers literature published from January 2016 to October 2022, following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement guidelines. A total of 1,520 citations were identified, with 17 qualifying for inclusion based on specified eligibility criteria.
The review focused on examining the effects of robotic and automated technologies for IPC purposes in healthcare settings, with emphasis on nosocomial infections. The investigation assessed the performance measures, adherence by healthcare workers (HCWs), and the cost and resources required for implementing IPC technologies, compared to established practices. The review unearthed three main areas of interest: Hand hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE); automatic infection cluster detection; and automated environmental cleaning and air quality control.
The investigation demonstrated that although automation and robotics have demonstrated their effectiveness, the usual practice involves limited technological reliance, and few advancements have emerged in this domain. The paper underscores that the path towards improved IPC lies in raising awareness about these tools among healthcare workers and involving them in design and implementation processes. Further, innovations in IPC should be sensitive to resource constraints faced by lower-income countries, ensuring global accessibility and adaptability.
In conclusion, the authors posit robots and smart environments as significant assets in the armory against HAIs. Successfully harnessing these innovations would involve concerted efforts from healthcare professionals, technology developers, and researchers. The review advocates for cross-collaborative work, aimed to maximize the potential of these innovations in safeguarding public health.