Are thermal imaging systems a long-term solution for infection control in our nursing and care homes, GP surgeries and other health premises, post-COVID?

The use of thermal imaging systems has grown exponentially during 2020 because of the global coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals and healthcare facilities have installed the technology to protect their staff and patients, enabling centres to reopen safely when combined with social distancing, stringent cleaning, and other protocols.

However, the benefits from using thermal imaging systems are not only restricted to limiting the spread of COVID-19: it has much wider advantages, too. In this article, we explain how thermal imaging systems work – and how healthcare employers can use the technology to keep their facilities safe now and in the future.

How does a thermal imaging system work?

Thermal imaging systems use infrared cameras that monitor people as they enter a room or building: for example, a busy hospital reception area, a care home or a health clinic. The system checks each person’s body temperature, and some are also able to identify whether or not they are wearing a mask.

If the individual’s temperature is 37.8 degrees or higher, which may indicate they are suffering a fever and are therefore infectious, a system connected to the cameras can automatically notify a member of staff, prompting an alert to appear on their computer or smart device. The individual is requested not to proceed further into the building, enabling additional checks to be undertaken.

What multiple benefits will thermal imaging systems bring post-COVID?

There are significant benefits to continuing the use of thermal imaging systems after the pandemic subsides, particularly because it is largely non-intrusive. In addition to being a common symptom of COVID-19, which, even with vaccinations becoming available, is unlikely to disappear completely, a high body temperature is a common symptom of flu and other viruses and illnesses which can be harmful or even fatal, particularly to care home residents and other vulnerable people.

By using a thermal imaging system, health managers can not only help prevent infected patients and visitors from entering the building, but they can also monitor the health of their employees.

This has numerous benefits:

  1. Employers will demonstrate that they understand the importance of looking after their colleagues’ health
  2. Employers can ensure that members of staff comply with sickness policies and take the appropriate time off work to recover fully from their illness
  3. The potential for any virus to spread amongst others is reduced
  4. Sickness rates will show an improvement, and this will reduce the need to use temporary staff, which is such a cost burden to the healthcare system
  5. Morale amongst team members is improved, with their colleagues confident that they can undertake their work in a stable and safe environment

How intrusive are thermal imaging systems?

In recent months, most of us will have encountered this technology. They are widely accepted because people understand the rationale behind the use of thermal imaging systems, and they are increasingly familiar with their presence.

A key advantage is that these systems are discreet and offer a much less disruptive solution than, for example, asking someone to take their temperature with a thermometer, which can be labour intensive from an employer’s perspective and inconvenient for staff, visitors etc.

Thermal imaging systems respect an individual’s privacy, with no loud noises, flashing lights etc. This makes the technology suitable for monitoring all persons, including those with audio or sensory disabilities which mean employers do not need to implement a dual system to accommodate these needs. Furthermore, they can be set to erase all recordings after a set period of time to ensure compliance with the relevant legislation.

They can screen multiple numbers of people at any one time so do not create bottlenecks or slow down the arrival of staff or visitors.

Further information

To find out more about the Multitone Thermal Imaging System and other solutions that we offer, please contact us on 01256 320292 or info@multitone.com.

Alternatively, click here to visit the Multitone Thermal Imaging Solution page.