Hospitals are Leveraging Video Technology for Improved Indoor Air Quality and Patient Satisfaction
- By Mark H. Johnson
- May 15, 2023
One of the top concerns for hospitals is maintaining optimal Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and detecting poor IAQ. By using air quality sensors in combination with an open platform, data-driven video technology and smart analytics, hospitals can monitor air quality conditions and detect potential risks — such as high levels of particulate matter or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause respiratory problems or infections — and improve patient safety, health, and the hospital’s satisfaction ratings.
Indoor Air Quality has always been crucial for hospitals because it can directly impact the health and well-being of patients, visitors, and healthcare workers. Hospitals are unique environments requiring a high standard of indoor air quality to ensure the best possible patient outcomes. Maintaining optimal air quality within hospitals is essential for many critical reasons:
Infection control: Hospitals are places where poor indoor air quality can lead to the spread of airborne illnesses such as COVID, tuberculosis, and the flu, particularly for patients with compromised immune systems.
Respiratory health: Indoor air pollutants such as dust, mold, and chemicals can trigger respiratory problems in patients with asthma or other respiratory conditions.
Comfort and well-being: Hospitals are stressful environments, and poor indoor air quality can exacerbate discomfort, anxiety, and stress in patients and staff.
As healthcare professionals improve care and deliver a more patient-centric experience, video analytic tools are becoming increasingly influential in hospital settings. Data-driven video technology, along with smart analytics, can provide hospital staff with real-time data that can accurately monitor air quality and detect possible health hazards. This technology has the potential to mitigate air quality-related issues and make the environment healthier and more pleasant for patients and staff alike.
The use of these integrated data technologies has also become a significant asset in assisting hospitals in achieving and sustaining compliance with the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) Standard 170. Additionally, they prove beneficial in the daily operations aimed at enhancing the patient experience, leading to increased favorability ratings in Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys.
Proactive IAQ Data Tools
An open platform, data-driven video management system (VMS) can be an essential tool for hospitals looking to leverage integrated analytics to monitor air quality (as well as many other environmental factors) and manage a wide range of smart edge devices and sensors. Video-generated air quality data can be incredibly accurate as compared to traditional point measurements. Top air quality concerns within a hospital or healthcare facility can include the following:
Airborne Pathogens: Hospitals are often crowded with patients, visitors, and staff members, which increases the risk of airborne pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi that can cause infections in vulnerable patients.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Hospitals use a variety of chemicals for cleaning and disinfection, which can release VOCs into the air. Exposure to high levels of VOCs can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, and even cancer.
Particulate Matter (PM): Particulate matter includes tiny particles that can be inhaled and cause respiratory problems. Hospitals can generate PM from activities such as cleaning, construction, and medical procedures. Proper filtration and ventilation are necessary to control the concentration of PM.
Temperature and Humidity: Hospitals require specific temperature and humidity conditions to ensure the comfort and safety of patients and staff. High temperatures and humidity can promote mold growth and other pathogens, while low humidity can cause dryness and irritation of the respiratory system.
Odors: Hospitals can generate unpleasant odors from food and medical waste sources. Effective ventilation and odor control measures are essential to maintain a comfortable and healthy environment.
Today’s networked digital air quality sensors can detect everything on the above list and many other air quality concerns, including smoking and vaping, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and the off-gassing from materials such as cleaning fluids, disinfectants, paints, and varnishes. In all cases, an open platform VMS leverages an ever-expanding community of manufacturers, software developers, and application developers who all work together to create extensions of each other to solve real-world facility problems.
Bringing it All Together
An open platform data-driven VMS can seamlessly integrate with air quality sensors by leveraging its ability to ingest, store and process large amounts of data in real time. The platform can receive sensor data from various sources, such as IoT devices or APIs, and store it in a central repository where it can be easily accessed and analyzed. The VMS can even provide visual verification of alarm events, such as looking to see if people are in an area where an air quality issue has been flagged.
The platform can also apply machine learning algorithms to identify patterns and anomalies in the data, providing insights into air quality trends and potential sources of pollution. The information can be presented to users through visualizations within the VMS as dashboards, maps, or charts, providing a clear and intuitive way to understand the data.
Additionally, the platform can enable users to set alerts and notifications based on specific thresholds or events, ensuring that stakeholders are promptly informed about any changes in air quality conditions. Overall, integrating air quality sensors with a data-driven video management platform can help organizations make informed decisions and take proactive measures to improve air quality and promote public health.
For example, suppose a hospital has a construction project underway. In that case, air quality sensors can detect an increase in particulate matter and trigger an alert to notify staff to take appropriate action, such as closing off the area or increasing ventilation to prevent patients and staff from inhaling harmful particles.
Best of all, many of these sensors can also be simultaneously tied directly to a hospital’s Building Management System through BACnet protocols. This level of integration provides reporting to hospital staff as well as facility engineers using the same devices and ultimately providing optimum patient, staff, and visitor care.
Video monitoring has been crucial in safeguarding patients, staff, facilities, and medical equipment for many years. But recent advances in open platform VMS technology, smart video/audio analytics, and edge devices can act as force multipliers within hospital and healthcare facilities.
Data-driven video management systems have emerged as a viable solution for providing a range of patient-centric operational procedures, which can directly help hospitals meet standards, deliver better care, and improve their patient satisfaction ratings — which all lead to a better bottom line.
This article originally appeared in the May / June 2023 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.