07 Nov Robotics and Automation within Healthcare
Automation and Augmented Realities seem to have taken a tremendous step forward in the past year. And while robotics in healthcare is nothing new, the advances have surpassed that of the Da Vinci robot introduced in 2000. Per Healthcare Dive, the UK suggested an overall world market for robotics in healthcare would surpass $3 billion in 2015 and continue to climb. As such, it is not a surprise that technologies, specifically those which are catered to the healthcare profession, would increase their interests. Specifically, there are three areas which will see an increase in robotics and automation. These are communications, maintenance and hospice, and treatment.
Communication Robots within the Healthcare system
When looking at robotics and automation in the communications sector of healthcare. One will find that the robotics for diagnosis as well as for remote doctor/patient communications has developed substantially. Specifically, the integration of robotics such as the Vasteras Giraff allows for two-way video calling to doctors and practitioner. Through this type of robotics, the need for certain nurses and hospice workers is minimized. This as a result decreases the financial strain on the industry while increasing the ability for patients to be in control of their communication with their medical practitioner, nurse, or physician.
Maintenance and hospice
Apart from the direct connection which computers may have with patients, the ability for robotics to automate and allocate certain in-house tasks to robotics have cut operation costs for hospitals and other medical sectors. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the tasks which are performed by a healthcare robot is equivalent to three human employees. And while there remains a concern as to the impact which robotics will have upon the “personal” touch within communications, the fact remains that the robots are emerging in larger numbers. Robots such as the TUG are taking the place of house care (sheets, linen drop off) as well as medicine distribution to patients.
Perhaps what makes the communication robotics in healthcare attractive, apart from the financial relief, is the fact that there remains a bit of ambiguity amongst the patient, the doctor, and the caregiver. By eliminating the “middleman” so to speak, issues and concerns can be shared with the primary medical provider with greater confidence that such information will remain confidential.
If one were to state that there would be intrusive surgery options whose primary tool would be that of microscopic computers which would infiltrate the problematic section of the body and provide the necessary services to treat and stabilize the patient, most would consider it sci-fi a few years ago. However, this is not a scene from the Matrix or even the imagination of Pixar BIG 6 (though there are some similar robotics to be found in these films),but rather these are modern day available treatments. Microbots have been used within the healthcare system to provide treatments ranging from the removal of plaque from arteries to procedures of placing/replacing stints. And while there have been no documented cases of using microbots to monitor certain blood related conditions, it would be a bit novice of anyone within the healthcare profession to not give consideration that such will soon be developed. Consider. If a microbot can be injected into a high risk patient and that robotic can monitor the blood pressure, cholesterol, physical activity, diet, and such information, the doctors and other caregivers are more apt to be able to properly diagnose and treat any needed emergencies which may arise in such a patient. Treatment through the use of automation and robotics is not limited to the intrusive. Such robots as the Cosmobot, allow for interactions to be conducted with the robot, in this instance children with development lags, and for the information to be recorded so that specialists in their field can analyze and cater to the specific needs of the patient.
What does this all mean for healthcare?
While the market for robotics and automation continues to increase, the need for qualified professionals is still great. Robotics and automation are quite apt to make the field even more competitive as certain tasks are sure to be allotted to more cost efficient machines. Task which will require the human factor will increase in salaries as well as demand.
Training in healthcare has already implemented various robotics within the field. Students of “traditional” practices may need to revisit certain areas of training in order to keep up with an ever-changing technological world. All around, the development of computers, robotics, and automation is here to stay, where the next break though is apt to occur is still to be seen, though I would predict such would be a coupling between automation robotics, smartphones, and physicians.