BlackBerry mulls bacteria-free smartphone for health professionals

BlackBerry is considering building a new device specific to the healthcare industry that would feature bacteria-fighting technology, according to a Bloomberg report.

In addition, the enterprise handset maker is joining forces with Cisco Systems and ThoughtWire to create a mobile messaging and alert system for Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital in Canada.

"Healthcare workers have to be worried about one less thing to wipe down" with a bacteria-free handset, BlackBerry CEO John Chen stated during the Mackenzie announcement last week, according to Bloomberg.

BlackBerry is struggling to regain its once deep industry footing in healthcare and faces greater competition than ever given the debut of Apple's first wearable, Watch, and its healthcare data platform, ResearchKit. What's more, Google also is developing a mHealth wristband for pharma clinical trials and drug tests to provide research teams with real-time data on patient vital signs, from pulse and heart rates to light exposure and noise level monitoring.

On the other hand, BlackBerry has yet to debut a mHealth wearable and, as FierceMobileHealthcare has reported, has not yet delivered interactive data genetic reporting via a cancer genome browser using a BlackBerry Passport, announced in late 2014. Regarding an mHealth wearable device, the last word from BlackBerry came in September 2014 when it was reported that the handset maker was conducting "internal experimentation."

A bacteria-free mobile device would prove valuable, according to Aviv Gladman, chief medical information office at MacKenzie Health. He told Bloomberg the transfer of bacteria and infection in hospitals is a "huge" concern.

Healthcare workers are tasked with wiping such devices with alcohol before and after a patient room visit, yet such preventative measures may not be completely effective, according to Gladman.

For more information:
- read the Bloomberg report