Our discussion is about medical innovation: robotics in healthcare. While robotics has found a lot of applications in this sector, there are excellent prospects for further applicability.
Over the years, the healthcare sector worldwide has seen tremendous innovation and delivery improvement.
This has generally improved patient experience and combatted a wide range of ailments.
Robots in Medicine
Examples of innovations that have changed or transformed healthcare include the hypodermic needle, medical thermometer, stethoscope, vaccines, X-rays, anesthesia, antibiotics, cardiac pacemaker, disposable catheter, cardiac defibrillators, antiviral drugs, organ transplants, stem cell therapy, a host of others.
Including these examples in our discussions has been necessary to underpin the importance of innovations in healthcare.
Major Brands in Healthcare Robotics
Robotics in healthcare has come of age, with significant companies providing all kinds of solutions ranging from basic to complex.
These provide all kinds of robotics solutions to the healthcare industry and continue researching ways to impact further how healthcare delivery is done.
What are the Benefits of Robotics in Healthcare?
Robots are deployed in healthcare due to the many benefits offered. Of course, improving patient care is the most obvious of these benefits.
Other benefits are seen in surgery, Covid-19 prevention, improvement of workplace safety, and streamlined clinical workflows.
So, are there any disadvantages to robotics in healthcare? There are quite a few.
First off, robots are expensive to deploy in healthcare. Plus, medical procedures like surgeries performed by robots are costly.
What more? Training medical personnel to work with robots can take a lot of time.
In a situation where something goes wrong, who to blame becomes a problem. In other words, there’s confusion on who to blame between the doctor and the machine or robot.
With that said, let’s go back to the benefits of robotics in healthcare to discuss each of the points mentioned briefly.
i. Improvement of Patient Care
It’s no secret that robotics has significantly and positively impacted patient care with the advent of nurse robots. Just like human nurses, nurse robots carry out similar tasks.
So, does that take away the jobs of human nurses? Not at all!
Nurse robots handle the less critical or urgent nursing tasks, while human nurses commit their time to more critical studies, including patient interactions.
The deployment of robotics in surgery isn’t new, as this has been in practice for a while.
Here, robots are more involved in surgical procedures as they assist doctors with improved precision. Robotics comes into play during complex surgical procedures.
This has significantly impacted the success rates of surgeries due to greater flexibility, vision, control, and precision associated with robotics.
The effect of such surgery is less scarring arising from smaller incisions. There are fewer cases of infections as risks are significantly reduced.
iii. Covid-19 Prevention
The Covid-19 era has seen a lot of adjustments to our daily lives.
People have had to take precautionary steps to limit the spread of the virus. Robotics has also been deployed to combat the Covid-19 spread as they don’t need to wear masks or PPEs when attending to patients.
iv. Improvement of Workplace Safety
Workplace safety in the healthcare industry has been significantly impacted by the introduction of robotics.
Service robots have reduced exposure to pathogens and germs, especially in transporting medical supplies like linens.
What more? There are situations where heavy lifting is involved.
Whether involving equipment or humans, nurse robots can help shift heavy equipment like beds or even lift patients, thus reducing the chance of injury due to hazards or accidents.
v. Streamlined Clinical Workflows
Here, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) have become particularly useful as they help reduce physical demands on human workers.
These robots help simplify routine tasks while promoting consistency in service delivery.
Robotics Applications in Healthcare
Robotics has found application in multiple areas of healthcare.
These include critical areas like surgical assisting, telepresence, medical transport, rehabilitation, prescription & dispensing, and sanitation & disinfection.
Let’s briefly discuss each of these.
i. Surgical Assisting
Robotics has evolved to serve various healthcare needs, including surgical assisting. As stated earlier, robots now assist doctors in performing surgeries with greater precision.
With robots, doctors don’t have to be in the same room as the patient to adjust patients during surgical procedures.
As the name suggests, robotics has eliminated the need for doctors to be physically present to examine patients.
Through telepresence, robots perform examinations, including administering treatments to patients as needed.
iii. Medical Transport
With innovations in robotics, medicines are administered to patients at the right time. This eliminates chances of forgetfulness as scheduled delivery of medical prescriptions to patients is maintained.
Patient rehabilitation is an integral part of healthcare that has been improved through the introduction of robotics. Such rehabilitation improvements are seen in coordination, mobility, responses, and strength.
Speech is another area where robotics can come into play.
v. Prescription & Dispensing
Similar to the point (medical transport) made earlier, robotics has helped improve prescription and dispensing while improving speed and accuracy.
vi. Sanitation & Disinfection
In healthcare, sanitation and disinfection are paramount as it helps eliminate infections, amongst other problems. Robotics is handy as it helps clean and sanitize surfaces in hospitals or clinics.
Types of Healthcare Robots
There are different types of robots deployed in the healthcare industry.
These are designed to carry out specific tasks. Such robots include care robots, surgical robots, and hospital robots.
Can Robotics Eventually Replace Humans in Healthcare Provision?
Undoubtedly, the importance of robotics in healthcare delivery cannot be downplayed.
However, there are existing limitations as to how far it can go. In other words, robotics, while necessary, cannot replace humans in healthcare delivery.
One central area that points to that is the empathy side of things. Medical caregivers are trained to show empathy as a such skill makes patients feel at ease and recuperate better.
By now, you should better grasp how valuable robotics is to healthcare.
So far, we’ve looked at the powerful robotics brands servicing the healthcare industry, their benefits, applications, and types of robots.