If there’s one positive we can take from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that it forced healthcare innovations to develop at unprecedented rates to keep up with demand. There’s a greater focus on technology now than ever before in the healthcare industry, giving healthcare providers new tools to maximize patient care.
Robots in healthcare might sound like sci-fi, but the technology is already here and it’s rapidly improving. Robot-assisted surgeries are becoming more common, and we could see this technology used in other areas of healthcare in the coming years.
The first remote robot-assisted procedure was performed in India in 2018, and some hospitals use AI assistants to help their nurses during shifts. Here’s a look at how robotic healthcare technology is advancing.
Robot-assisted coronary procedures
Those who require a heart-related procedure in the coming years could have a robot help with the job. The idea is that robots programmed with automated movements or armed with artificial intelligence capabilities can replicate the actions of a surgeon while increasing accuracy during the procedure.
For instance, some healthcare providers use robots to place stents. In this situation, the robot is programmed with automated movements to deliver the stent. In doing so, the surgeon, who doesn’t even have to be in the room, can maximize precision by eliminating some human error.
As this technology evolves, we could see surgeons perform operations while living in another city or country than the patient. The result is greater access to healthcare for people in rural settings and, potentially, better outcomes.
Automated lab testing usually done by a nurse
While having a robot perform a surgery is a significant breakthrough that’s creating excitement in the healthcare industry, robots can also handle other tasks while removing some stress from overworked healthcare professionals.
One example is automated laboratory testing, where a machine can scan a patient’s identity, collect a sample by swabbing their throat, and deliver the sample to the correct location. This job typically requires a nurse, but now the nurse can focus on more pressing issues while leaving the robot to handle this task.
Keeping the place clean
Of course, sanitation is essential in a healthcare setting, and robots took a central role in that process during the pandemic. Many healthcare facilities now use robots to spray disinfectants following appointments rather than having to send a human being into the room. This use of technology puts fewer healthcare workers at risk and is a huge positive in many settings.
Staff can control these robots remotely through a laptop or tablet, too. This ensures that they start the sanitation process at the right time and finish by the time the next patient enters the space.
Some of the most exciting recent developments in the healthcare space are the delivery robots that aim to ease the burnout nurses are experiencing after two years of being overworked because of the pandemic.
Moxi, for example, is a four-foot-tall robotic assistant that travels the halls of the Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and other healthcare facilities, delivering medication, lab samples, personal items, and other supplies to their destinations. Without Moxi, nurses would be responsible for this additional work, leaving less time for patient care.
Moxi is equipped with a robotic arm to collect items and a camera and lidar sensor to help map the hospital and avoid bumping into people and objects while moving around the building. This technology still has a long way to go before robots replace humans, but trusting a robot to complete menial jobs in the healthcare setting frees up skilled workers to perform more critical tasks.
The future of robotics in healthcare
We’re entering an exciting time in the healthcare industry because technological innovation is coming to the forefront at a rapid pace. While we’re still a long way from robot doctors taking over the field, using automated or even intelligent technology to assist healthcare providers when overworked is incredibly valuable.
This technology will likely continue evolving in the future, and we could enter a stage where robots assist with minor health interventions. However, you should note that cybersecurity is a genuine concern because viruses and other attacks could impact the effectiveness of the technology.
Would you see a robot doctor?
There’s so much innovation present in healthcare today. There’s no telling how far things will evolve in the coming years as more money enters the space.
Would you trust a robot doctor? Let us know in the comment section below, and don’t forget to share this post with anyone fascinated by the advancements in AI!