Below, Rick Conneely, Eaton’s director of project management, shares what’s trending in the power protection technologies sector and what healthcare professionals should know before they purchase new equipment.
24×7: What’s the latest and greatest in the power protection technologies sector right now?
Rick Conneely: Recent years have seen some major advancements in medical-grade power protection solutions. One is in the realm of hospital-grade power strips. As hospitals continue to place greater emphasis on safety, standards continue to evolve for medical equipment in accordance with these standards. One such standard is UL 2930, designed to mitigate electric shock from this equipment. Our new dual-grounded power strips, which offer redundant ground capabilities to minimize the risk of an electric shock during a fault condition, are in full compliance with UL 2930.
Another innovation that has emerged, particularly in the area of health IT equipment, is lithium-ion batteries in UPS technology. UPSs serve as the bridge to generator power during an outage and offer critical protection against the loss of data during an unplanned event. Lithium-ion batteries can offer an eight-to-15-year lifecycle compared to traditional valve-regulated lead-acid batteries, enabling healthcare IT professionals to reduce maintenance time spent on UPS battery replacements.
24×7: The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly impacted all facets of healthcare? How did it affect the power protection technologies field, in particular?
Conneely: The pandemic created a heightened awareness, leading many hospitals to seek out new ways to defend against the spread of germs. One frequently overlooked area in this regard is power protection equipment, yet the last several years have seen the emergence of new ways to keep equipment safe to prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold, and mildew on surfaces. We recently introduced antimicrobial protection across a broad range of power protection technologies, from power strips and surge protectors to cables and device-charging carts.
Another impact the pandemic has had on power protection technologies is, unsurprisingly, on the supply chain for equipment and the parts needed to manufacture it. Lead times for products are getting longer and, while manufacturers like Eaton are well positioned to meet customer demand, hospital IT managers should have a strategy that takes supply chain challenges into account and plans for power protection needs several years ahead to ensure they are procuring the right products in a timely manner.
24×7: How have power protection technologies evolved in recent years and how do you expect them to innovate even more in the future?
Conneely: Power protection technologies continue to evolve to meet the needs of medical professionals for greater mobility in delivering patient care. Hospitals seek to invest in much lighter and more portable equipment to aid in mobility, and this has resulted in more power technologies manufactured with reduced weight and an increased lifecycle. These smaller-scale power technologies can help mobilize ultrasound machines, portable x-rays, incubators, and other large devices as hospitals look at new, more mobile approaches to care.
Additionally, as more hospital systems seek to push health IT infrastructure to edge locations (such as urgent care clinics), we are seeing a greater reliance on connectivity in UPSs and other power management equipment to enable functionality like remote management and monitoring through digitalization. By enabling these capabilities, hospitals can leverage disaster avoidance and predictive maintenance capabilities in locations where no onsite IT staff may be present, reducing the cost of downtime and enhancing overall patient care.
24×7: What should healthcare professionals know before procuring power protection technologies?
Conneely: An important thing for healthcare professionals to remember is to use the right rated equipment in the right part of each hospital or facility. Power protection equipment is created for a specific purpose, and equipment graded for one part of the hospital may not necessarily be graded for another. It’s important to work with your vendor or partner to spec out the right power protection technology for the right application (i.e., patient care area) to minimize safety issues while also managing budgets responsibly.
24×7: Anything else you want 24×7 readers to know about power protection technologies?
Conneely: Power protection equipment will continue to evolve in accordance with emerging technology innovations, and what worked yesterday may not necessarily be the right solution for today and tomorrow. It’s important for HTM professionals to stay educated about new innovations and work with their vendors or IT partners to procure technologies that not only protect critical systems from outages, power surges, and other potentially damaging events, but also enable them to deliver higher levels of patient care now and in the future.