Healthcare providers have never needed exemplary infection control more than they have this year. COVID-19 is more infectious than even the flu and has resulted in more hospitalizations, according to Healthline. As medical providers struggle to meet the need for critical care, they need to protect themselves and their other patients from succumbing as well. As a result, interest in medical equipment – especially high-touch equipment like keyboards – that can help stem the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious pathogens is higher than ever
But what does that mean? When looking for a medical-grade keyboard, here are the top 10 features to demand.
- Foundationally, medical keyboards must be specially designed to help with infection control in hygienically demanding environments like operating rooms, emergency rooms, laboratories, and more. Don’t use regular office-quality keyboards where hygiene and sanitation are critical factors.
- Be aware that sometimes it’s the users – and not the equipment – that are the weak link. Most healthcare providers do not clean or disinfectant medical equipment as often as they should. One study found that even equipment that should be cleaned after each use according to CDC standards – like computers on wheels – is usually cleaned only “three times a day at most.”
- To help with that problem, make sure the keyboards are easy to clean. Specifically, look for washable keyboards that can be thoroughly wiped down in less than 10 seconds.
- That degree of ease-of-cleaning requires a flat construction and the ability to lock the keyboard at a touch, so it doesn’t have to be manually detached from the computer or powered down.
- Flat construction will also, unfortunately, reduce tactile feedback when pressing keys, but it’s possible to make up for that with acoustic or haptic feedback instead. The design of the keyboard can also help; for example, embossing can provide sensory feedback to the fingers to help them navigate between keys.
- The keyboards should be fully sealed – ideally with an IP65 rating – in order to be fully splash proof when using liquid cleaning agents.
- They should be composed of a scratch- and chemical-resistant material that can withstand the most common cleaning solutions and disinfectants (including bleach, alcohol, iodine solutions). Additionally, look for antimicrobial coating or surface treatments that can strengthen infection control and reduce risk even further.
- The material used should also be non-porous so that microbes can’t penetrate or settle into microscopic nooks and crannies in the material.
- Keyboards should integrate track pads to minimize cross-contamination between keyboards and mice. Similarly, if possible, look for keyboards that can provide alerts when it’s time to clean.
- The enhancements that make the keyboard “medical-grade” should not come at the cost of lifespan or performance. Service life should be comparable to standard keyboards (e.g., 1 million+ operations).
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Critical components for high-quality medical equipment is a specialty at Hoffmann + Krippner. For more information about Hoffmann + Krippner’s COVID-19 preparations and our production capabilities, read our most recent statement and follow news as it updates here. For more information or for answers to specific questions, contact us at your convenience.
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Technical wordsmith and guest blogger for Hoffmann + Krippner.