The use of thermal imaging has been popular in several industries like infrastructure security for a few decades now. However, the use of thermal cameras is still under research for the healthcare industry. Research experts are trying to explore the possibilities of utilizing thermal images for medical purposes.
The use of infrared technology can be beneficial in the diagnosis of diseases in patients without invasive examinations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rise in the demand for infrared cameras for detecting people with fever in crowded areas.
In this article, we are going to discuss the various applications of thermal imaging technology in the field of healthcare.
Fever Detection Cameras at Healthcare Institutions
Since healthcare institutions have to treat several people with different ailments, there is no way to separate Covid-19 patients from others. Hospitals can become very crowded, and there is a high risk of people getting infected. Therefore, people with COVID-19 infection must get separated from other patients as early as possible.
The use of thermometers for every person coming in through the doors of a hospital is not a very practical solution, especially for emergency patients. Therefore hospital facility managers have started installing fever detection cameras at the entrance.
A thermal camera is a device that uses infrared imaging technology to read the body temperature of a person. These cameras use dual imaging (thermal and HD) to screen people in its field of vision, which makes it convenient to identify people with fever in a crowd.
When a person shows a higher body temperature than 100.4 °F, he or she must get tested with a medical thermometer for confirmation of fever. This step is necessary because fever detection cameras read the temperature on the surface of the skin and not the inner body. However, high-quality thermal cameras can measure the skin temperature accurately with negligible room for error.
While they cannot detect the presence of COVID-19 infection, they are useful in screening people in large numbers for signs of the disease. Each company makes the cameras with different specifications, scanning distance of the person, speed of scanning, calibration, the field of vision, so on and so forth.
Therefore, medical institutions must consider these specifications according to the requirements. The FDA supports the use of thermal cameras for the detection and prevention of diseases, including COVID-19.
Managing Security in the Healthcare Premises
Thermal cameras have been used in the security industry for a long time. But when it comes to hospitals, infrared imaging has several advantages over regular CCTV cameras.
Since infrared cameras use thermal imaging, they reduce the privacy concerns of patients and visitors. Most reliable thermal cameras have the option to switch off recording so that the video can get monitored in real-time only. However, hospitals need to ensure that they meet the minimum security requirements of the institution.
Therefore thermal cameras can get installed in low-risk areas of the healthcare premises. Infrared cameras are compliant with the current HIPPA regulations, which makes them an ideal alternative to CCTV cameras. High-quality thermal cameras use AI technology that can alert the management about any suspicious behavior.
Thermal imaging has shown great potential in the diagnosis of several medical issues in patients. Infrared technology and thermal imaging have shown positive results in detecting inflammation in the joints of patients. Inflamed areas in the human body generate heat signatures that can get identified by thermal cameras. These cameras can be used to detect injuries sustained by individuals as well.
Thermal imaging technology has also shown promising results in the detection of infections. Doctors use high-resolution infrared thermography to diagnose a skin infection called Tungiasis caused by the Tunga flea. The flea buries itself under the upper dermis layer of the skin and causes the infection. Infrared thermography can detect the heat signatures of the disease and divulge its location on a patient’s skin.
Environment Temperature Management
Monitoring the temperature in healthcare institutions is of vital importance. Hospitals have different types of machinery and store various types of chemicals. The presence of medical equipment and chemicals make hospitals a high-risk zone for accidents.
Thermal cameras can get installed in areas that contain the chemicals and machinery to monitor any significant changes in the heat dissipated. The cameras can alert the authorities of any such heat spikes immediately and help in the prevention of accidents. Infrared cameras can also detect the release of any toxic fumes in the air and alert the authorities to take immediate action.
Thermal imaging is currently used in several medical institutions all over the country. It also shows promising results in several medical aspects. Therefore, it is only a matter of time that we begin to see thermal cameras getting used for different medical purposes in healthcare institutions.