As BlackBerry struggles to regain its footing in the global smartphone market the company has not given up on opportunities to become a niche player, it still focuses extensively on its security credentials which make it a darling for governments and militaries around the world. The company has also been catering to emerging markets with low-end devices that have reasonable price tags. BlackBerry might be eyeing a new opportunity in the healthcare business, a sector which it has always been closely associated with, it may develop bacteria-free smartphones for hospitals.

The possibility was voiced by BlackBerry CEO John Chen himself during a visit to a hospital north of Toronto where he launched a clinical alerts pilot project.

“Health-care workers have to be worried about one less thing to wipe down,” Chen said, while clarifying that BlackBerry doesn’t have such a handset in development right now, only that it might make one if there’s demand for it.

BlackBerry’s pilot project at the Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital is a collaboration with Cisco and ThoughtWire to provide nurses and doctors with a portable messaging and alert system, BB is going to provide the devices and the software.

The hospital’s chief medical information officer Dr. Aviv Gladman said that transfer of infections and bacteria between hospitals is a “huge issue,” and that doctors and nurses are required to wipe their phone with alcohol before they enter and exit a patient’s room.

BlackBerry might be on to something here, there’s certainly a need for bacteria-free phones in hospitals and it just might be able to fulfill that need.

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