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A clear case of smart thinking in the OR

A STERILE mobile device cover has been developed that allows surgeons to take smart phones and tablets into operating theatres for the first time.

The patented CleanCase container – into which the device is inserted via a contaminant-free funnel –  ensures full functionality while never compromising patient safety.

It has been developed by Rob Zondervan, a doctor and PhD student at Michigan State University, who founded SteriDev to market the new product to clinical teams across the world.

Surgeons need to take mobile devices into the surgical field for two main reasons: to capture media for medical records and to use mobile medical applications.

Currently, mobile applications are improving the delivery of health care in non-sterile settings but the CleanCase mobile device cover expands their usage into sterile environments.

Zondervan was surprised to learn that no existing products allowed clinicians to safely bring mobile devices into surgical areas while retaining device functionality, and so he set out to devise a better solution.

He recalled one operation during which he had to scrub out to remove himself from the sterile area to take some photos.

He added: “I couldn’t get the right angle, and it just wasn’t convenient or safe, so I thought there has to be a better and more efficient way to do this.

“There are a couple of other device cover options on the market currently but they sacrifice a lot of function.

“They’re kind of a one-size-fits-all design that is essentially a sterile plastic bag.

“The problem is that as you are sliding your sterile glove across the screen of a mobile device, the bags move with it and it limits functionality.”

When using Zondervan’s device, a non-sterile individual drops the smart phone through an aseptic funnel into the CleanCase, which is held by a sterile person.

The funnel is then removed and discarded and the case is locked, removing the risk of contaminating the sterile field or infecting patients.

The case is made of rigid plastic which features a touchscreen face and an unobstructed camera window, making the mobile device fully functional, protected and easy to manipulate, especially through gloved hands.

Mobile technology could well play an increasingly integral role in the healthcare delivery of the future.

Studies show that it can improve hospital efficiency, patient care and clinical outcomes.

SteriDev reports an increased interest from prospective corporate partners and app developers who are seeing an opportunity to improve surgical care and other procedures.

Some examples are augmented reality-guided procedures or biopsies, or counting how many devices are in the surgical field, or estimating blood loss.

The CleanCase device cover currently fits iPhones, since research indicated that the majority of surgeons are using Apple products but SteriDev is developing models for different makes as well as for tablets.