4th November, 2015

Behind the Charge: A Big Challenge for Hospitals

By Jason Ng, Senior Marketing Communications Specialist for MK Electric

Device proliferation and ‘Nomophobia’, the fear of being without a mobile device,’ aren’t just consumer problems.

For patients with a long stay in hospital, potentially in just one room, portable devices can be a welcome source of entertainment and distraction. They are a crucial way to stay in touch with everything going on in the outside world, and are an important lifeline for patients who want to stay in contact with friends and family. When these devices run out of battery, they can leave patients feeling bored, lonely, and disconnected.

Portable devices are also becoming increasingly important for hospital staff. The NHS’ Integrated Digital Care Fund has prioritised the importance of the digital care records, and as more hospitals start digitising their files and patient records in order to cut costs, it’s essential that staff devices are always on and connected.

But as many of us know, it can be all too easy to forget to charge your work devices – especially if you accidentally leave them in the office overnight. But for hospital staff, who are already under extreme time pressures, this can cause serious problems.

With so many patients and staff coming and going, each with their own devices and needs, it can be difficult to ensure everyone is receiving the best quality of care.

The answer is USB charging
The vast majority of mobile devices are USB-powered, and can be charged using a USB cable. If hospitals took the easy, cost-effective step of installing USB charging solutions on-site, they will instantly make their premises more comfortable for their patients.

USB charging will also ensure that staff have access to vital digital data at any time – even if they did forget to charge their device. Additionally, fixed installation USB chargers remove the need for continual PAT testing of adaptors and takes away the risk of unapproved chargers being used, which can lead to damage of devices, a growing concern for many hospitals.

Charging up
Traditionally, the most popular form of USB charging has been the standalone module, but manufacturers have recently added a second option to the mix: USB ports integrated into a standard twin switchsocket.

This new option allows hospitals to integrate USB charging functionality into their existing power points, taking advantage of existing wiring and circuitry. In addition, solutions like the MK Electric USB integrated switchsocket allow four devices to be charged at once – two plugs, two USBs – for the days that every patient wants to charge.

DDR is a game changer  
Another important innovation, developed by MK Electric, is the arrival of dynamic device recognition (DDR): a ‘smart’ approach to charging devices via USB.

If multiple devices – say two smartphones – are charging through one integrated socket, DDR has the intelligence to decipher, based on the make and manufacturer of a device, the specific charging requirements of each device. This allows the socket to power each device accordingly.

So what does this mean for the average patient and staff member?

When plugging in an iPhone® that’s only at 20 percent charge and a Windows phone at 80 percent charge, the iPhone® may be “hungrier” and require more power from the socket to charge efficiently. The DDR enabled socket is smart enough to recognise this and ensure more charging power is therefore allocated to the iPhone®, without negatively impacting the charging rate of the Windows phone.

The number of devices we own is only going in one direction, and their use in hospital environments will continue to grow. It’s therefore vital that hospitals invest in the potential for USB charging solutions on their premises.

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