Robots in Healthcare: What’s In For the Future

Robots in Healthcare: What’s In For the Future

The use of robots in healthcare is a huge trend that seems to be gaining popularity in recent years. From the first surgical assistant (robot) more than ten years ago to new research today, the robotics in healthcare and improving rapidly.

For example, in 2000, the da Vinci Surgical System was the first device approved by the FDA to perform simple surgical procedures. The system, since then has conducted over 20.000 surgeries. Over the years, researchers have presented several enhancements to robotics, created to enhance the quality of care, help with various therapies, and ensure direct patient-doctor care. These new and modern robots also serve as a marketing tool to position medical centers and hospitals as early adopters of technology.

Researchers at the GIT (Georgia Institute of Technology) developed a way to give robots a sense of touch by using artificial skin which can significantly improve the lives of people with serious disabilities. The ability of a robot to feel the pressure is a very important advancement in the desire to deliver quality care to patients. Artificial skin is being tested on a robotic arm by using a set of sensors to transmit information to a system that determines how much pressure the robot should take when it contact with real humans.

Robots that have joined the hospital workforce in the US tend to fall into two separate categories – robots that replace a job that is handled by humans and robots that connect patients and clinicians in ways that previously didn’t exist. These robots are also known as telemedicine-based robotics and are more common in academic and large medical centers which are more likely to have the budget, scale, and mobility to invest in modern technology.

Other advancements that are used to improve the daily lives of patients include Toyota’s Healthcare Assistants that help patients get back to their daily rituals and responsibilities, the Bestic Arm that assists patients with meals. It is also becoming more common to see Tugs (a mobile robot) going around the US hospitals using elevators as they carry lab results, linens, and drugs. They replace the role of runners who are actually responsible for such deliveries.

Caregivers can now utilize robots to improve telemedicine for those who are restricted to their homes. For example, the Giraff is a two-way system used by doctors and physicians to communicate with patients using a computer and camera to control the robot. RP-VITA or Remote Presence Virtual & Independent Telemedicine Assistant allows physicians to interact with patients.

Surgery is, without a doubt, the most discussed robotic application and the most successful so far. However, it is not the only application. Other areas which are starting to use robots include sanitation, rehabilitation, and prescription dispensing.

Most modern healthcare robots are designed for their target applications. In manufacturing and other industries, general purpose robots are more common.

You might think that collaborative robots are too imprecise for medicine. However, there are a few tasks in every area that can be accomplished by a robot.

Here are five ways robots are used in healthcare:

1.Medical Device Packaging

The packaging is an ideal application for robots. Medical devices provide some challenges for packaging robots. Sterilization is important for devices which will come into close contact with patients. When humans perform such tasks, there is a risk of contamination that may jeopardize the product’s integrity.

2. Lab Automation

Another robotic application which has many benefits is lab automation. A huge number of tests are performed every day. For example, in the UK alone, there are over 300 million blood tests requested in one year. These tests require a lot of repetitive actions which is something a robot can do.

3. Cutting Bone

The CARLO System uses a robot to perform laser bone ablation. This is a procedure where part of the bone is cut away in order to remove a benign growth.

4. Neurosurgery

Now you know that robots are also being applied to more serious applications. Synaptive Medical has designed a robot-based product for neurosurgery. The robot, however, doesn’t perform the surgery itself. It is used as a digital microscope to allow the neurosurgeon to get the best view and increase precision.

5. Therapeutic Massage

A California startup – Massage Robotics has created a robot which takes the role of a human physiotherapist. By using two such robots, you can give users a full body massage using effectors which roll over the body. 

Despite these uses and advancements, questions remain about whether the new technology can deliver consistent and reliable results. I guess, only time will tell. In the meantime, nurses and doctors can prepare for more radical changes in the way care is provided by embracing and adopting these technologies.

Robots can help nurses and doctors to spend more time communicating with patients and be more effective in the workplace.

There is no doubt that robots are changing healthcare and will continue to do so. Read more about Facebook Without Paid Ads

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