Until a few years ago, it was impossible to fathom the idea that robots could be used as an aid in the way healthcare organizations are run. Fast forward a few decades. Technological advances have led to the development of robotics to the extent that healthcare organizations are now studying them to improve patient care, reduce waste, save costs, and develop efficiencies within the organization.
Automation driven by advanced digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics can play an instrumental role in enhancing the efficiency of healthcare professionals by automating tasks that are monotonous and repetitive but require constant attention to detail. It can not only reduce the burden on healthcare professionals, but also allow them to focus on important tasks and spend time with patients. In addition, robots can also help healthcare organizations deal with a shortage of healthcare workers, including nurses, doctors, and allied healthcare professionals.
Robotics application in healthcare
Applications of robotics in healthcare range from simple laboratory tasks to complex surgical procedures. Surgical robots can perform operations on their own or assist human surgeons. Other than that, robots are also used in laboratories and hospitals for repetitive tasks, rehabilitation, physical therapy and support for patients with long-term conditions.
The global medical robotics market is expected to reach $20 billion by 2023. Here’s a look at the most promising applications of robotics in healthcare.
Surgical assistance robots
Advances in motion control technologies have allowed surgical assistance robots to become more precise. These robots help surgeons and doctors achieve high levels of accuracy and speed while performing complex surgeries using computer vision-capable and AI-enabled technologies.
Surgical robots are replacing open surgeries, which were the preferred method for most internal procedures. They not only make procedures accurate and easy, but also reduce the risk of complications and infection. In addition, robots are also pre-programmed to perform common orthopedic surgeries such as knee and hip replacements. Artificial intelligence is helping robots train some orthopedic surgeries, with precise guidance on where and how surgery is performed.
Autonomous mobile robots
Healthcare organizations are increasingly applying autonomous mobile robots to help meet critical requirements such as telepresence, delivery of medical supplies and medicines, and disinfection, as well as to free up specialists so they can spend more time with patients.
When equipped with mapping capabilities, visual computing, or LiDAR (light detection and ranging) systems, these robots can autonomously navigate hospital or examination rooms, allowing clinicians to interact from a safe distance. When controlled by a remote specialist, they can also accompany doctors during hospital tours, allowing the specialist to contribute through an on-screen consultation regarding patient care and diagnosis.
Some robots also assist healthcare organizations before patients check in. For example, an autonomous robot developed in Mexico helps medical staff deal with high-risk COVID patients. He triages each patient by taking their medical history, temperature, and blood oxygen level when they arrive at the hospital.
The benefit of social robots lies in their ability to interact with humans directly. These robots can be used in long-term care scenarios to provide monitoring and social interaction. They may help patients follow their own treatment regimens or contribute to cognitive engagement, helping them to be alert and positive. They can also provide directions to patients and visitors within the hospital environment.
The primary purpose of service robots is to reduce the burden on healthcare professionals by automating routine logistical tasks. The majority of service bots can work independently and even send reports after completing a task. The robots are able to set up patient rooms, track supplies, place orders, restock medical supplies, and transport bed linen to and from laundry facilities. They can also help with disinfection and cleaning. These service robots may use UV light, air filtration, or hydrogen peroxide fumes to help reduce infection risks and sanitize spaces in a uniform manner.
Robots are already making a paradigm shift in healthcare services, and more is expected over the years, with advances in technology. Therefore, it becomes imperative for healthcare organizations to consider and invest in the long-term benefits and huge potential of robotic technologies to better manage their organizations.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)