Light the way: Pathogen killing robots making our shared spaces safe again

Jun 8, 2020

Imagine being able to decontaminate an average sized surgical theatre in about eight minutes autonomously? There’s no need to imagine, the technology is here and already being used in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Nexmed Healthcare Solutions, the strategic partner to UV-D Robots and GoBe Robots for sub-Saharan Africa, is at the forefront of bringing some of the most cutting edge of these new technologies to South African.

As we all adjust to Level 3 of the lockdown and more of us return to our workplaces, the UV-D Robots are perfectly placed to help companies comply with the stringent regulations for a safe workplace, while also ensuring people returning feel safe.

The UV-D Robot decontaminates a typical 25m² area in under 10 minutes.  This allows for easy integration into the workplace, schools, gyms, airports etc.  More importantly, the robot goes beyond cleaning and sanitizing, it disinfects the area and does this autonomously.

As Nexmed Healthcare Solutions Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Burger explains, the applications for the robot in hospitals and beyond are many: “With level 3 lockdown now in place and many industries returning to work, the robot becomes an ally as it is able to disinfect in rapid time, multiple times a week up to 99.999%, leaving the facility aseptic and removing all harmful pathogens.

“Unlike the alternatives, it requires no harmful chemicals which create health risks due to long term exposure. It also requires no human labor or lengthy disinfection cycles. It is safe to enter the room immediately after disinfection as most fogging agents require at least two to six hours ventilation time before a person can re-enter, which is disruptive.

“We are seeing international use of the UV-D Robot across industries such as hospitals, doctors’ rooms and clinics, airports, hotels, schools, gyms, shopping centers, retail stores, banks, offices and more.”

According to a new study led by researchers at the University of Birmingham in the UK and the University of Cape Town (UCT) in SA, around 146 000 surgeries will be cancelled – including 12 000 oncology procedures – due to the pandemic.

This may result in a patient’s condition deteriorating or worsening their quality of life as they await surgery.  “In some cases, for example, cancer delayed surgeries may lead to a number of unnecessary deaths.” Clearing the backlog created by COVID-19 is also going to place significant pressure on our healthcare sector which comes at an exorbitant cost, one we might not be able to afford or recover from.

The main reason for the cancellation of surgeries has been cited as “reducing the risk of patients being exposed to COVID-19 in hospital, and to support the wider hospital response”.  We know the risk of patient exposure is linked to infection prevention and control, and with a virus this aggressive in its transmission, we require advanced next-gen technology like the UV-D Robot.

The UV-D Robot offers significant support during this pandemic and beyond, as it allows hospital administrators to disinfect an entire theatre operating room in under 8 minutes, leaving the environment aseptic and free from pathogens.  This can be done between surgeries, thereby drastically reducing the risk of infection to patients.

Although hospitals pre-screen patients before elective surgery, the autonomous decontamination would also mitigate against any risk posed by asymptomatic patients. The decontamination process not only kills coronavirus, but is effective against other serious superbugs such as Ebola, MRSA, VRE, CRE, Candida, C.Diff, Pseudomonas and more, says Burger. The UV-D Robot comes with proprietary software to track and validate the disinfection, as well as UV-C dosimeters to measure the effectiveness of the disinfection – providing clients with validation that the pathogens are gone.

How does it work?

The robots are equipped with germicidal UV-C light. This means it deactivates the DNA of bacteria, virus and other pathogens and destroys their ability to multiply and cause disease. In short, when the organism tries to replicate, it dies.

“Also, the UV-D Robot can be used routinely throughout a hospital to conduct multiple disinfections per room, per day with limited human intervention.  UV-D Robots also offers a UV-C impenetrable shield which is erected in occupied rooms allowing a full disinfection without exposure to UV-C.

How Nexmed is fast-tracking Africa’s digital transformation

Burger says that Nexmed’s motto is “caring through innovation”.

“As a company we are excited to bring best-in-class technologies to Africa as they emerge internationally, or at the same time locally produce such disruptive innovation. We are looking to play a significant part in fast-tracking Africa’s exposure and adoption to digital transformation for the overall benefit of advancing healthcare.”

What’s the next innovation?

Another of Nexmed’s technologies is the GoBe One Telepresence Robot. Its main purpose, says Burger, is to connect individuals seamlessly while maintaining the human touch. The Robot allows for virtual/autonomous consultations between patients and consultants.

“We have seen a significant burden placed on the sourcing and providing of PPE, particularly in our public facilities. The GoBe One will therefore aid in saving lives by reducing pathogen exposure.”

The GoBe One will launch later in June in Europe and in Africa at the same time, thanks to Nexmed and GoBe Robot’s partnership.

Burger says the next big innovation Nexmed Healthcare Solutions will be launching is OrthoView. “We are very excited to announce the launch of our advanced surgical planning and optimization lab in coming months. Our lab will be equipped with the most advanced 3D printing technology coupled with advanced surgical planning software.

“The first stage of our launch is to introduce the world’s most advanced orthopaedic pre-surgical planning software to Africa. In partnership with a global leader in surgical optimization, Materialise, Nexmed will be bringing the OrthoView software to Africa.”

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