Robots in healthcare are used for a variety of tasks, including surgical assistance, delivering supplies, and cleaning and disinfecting hospital rooms. They also help alleviate workloads for nurses and other care providers, enabling them to spend more time interacting with patients.
Medical robotics also help reduce person-to-person contact in infectious disease wards, limiting the risk of spreading disease. They can also be used in telemedicine to connect remote care providers with patients and consult with them remotely.
1. Surgical Robots
Robots are helping healthcare professionals do their jobs more efficiently and safely. They help to perform surgical procedures, transport supplies and linens, clean and disinfect hospital rooms, and assist with heavy lifting in many healthcare settings.
Surgical robotics are a significant area of innovation in the field of surgery. They offer new levels of precision and speed, enabling surgeons to complete surgeries that were previously impossible or technically difficult.
They also improve hand-eye coordination and an ergonomic position, reduce the fulcrum effect of instrument manipulation, and provide increased visualization. In addition, the use of these systems is enabling surgeons to work with new techniques such as tissue anastomosis.
Surgeons who have used the robot have reported feeling more relaxed when using it and having lower levels of stress than during laparoscopic surgery. However, there are some challenges.
2. Laboratory Robots
Laboratory robots help technicians complete tasks that require repetitive movements (pick and place, liquid/solid additions, heating/cooling, mixing, shaking, and testing). They automate processes that are often labor-intensive, allowing lab workers to focus on more critical aspects of their jobs.
Medical robotics can also reduce human errors and provide a safer environment for patients and healthcare workers. For example, they can disinfect patient rooms without contact, limiting the risk of hospital-acquired infections.
Collaborative robotic arms like YuMi are able to undertake a range of process tasks such as device tending, sample collection and storage, sterile instrument kitting and centrifuge loading and unloading with minimal human intervention. These systems can be integrated with devices such as hematology, immunoassay and chemistry analyzers.
3. Bone Ablation Robots
The need for precision in bone surgery has led medical organizations to adopt robotic devices that use cold laser photoablation instead of saws or drills. This allows surgeons to cut bones without the risk of carbonization, limiting the potential for injury and pain.
AOT, a Basel University Hospital spin-off, is pioneering this technology by developing CARLO (Cold Ablation Robot-guided Laser Osteotome). This platform uses preplanned cutting patterns and a digital workflow to perform osteotomies precisely and contactless via laser.
For CARLO to be effective, it needed to learn to see. This meant that the robot had to have access to a legally compliant data platform that could be used for acquiring images and analyzing the results.
Cobots are a form of collaborative robotics that support workers in repetitive tasks. They are easy to deploy and can work around people, which makes them ideal for responding to peak or staff shortages.
In the healthcare industry, cobots can help reduce workload for nurses. They can do things like draw blood, monitor vitals, take care of hygiene and more.
Another application for cobots is in the lab, where they can pick up and sort samples for analysis. This saves time and improves quality.
In the medical industry, there are a lot of tests being performed and each test requires a lot of repetitive actions. However, each person loads the specimens in a slightly different way which results in errors.
5. Telemedicine Robots
Telemedicine robots are a key element in telemedicine, a technology that allows doctors to interact with patients from a remote location. These telerobots are designed to improve patient care by increasing efficiency and accuracy in the delivery of healthcare services.
Moreover, these robots are a cost-effective way of reducing healthcare costs by preventing unnecessary hospital visits. These robots are capable of taking a patient’s vital signs, diagnosing their illness, and even prescribing medication.
Telemedicine robots have applications across the healthcare sector, including treating immunocompromised patients and improving access to healthcare in rural areas. They could also be used to help seniors age in place by allowing nurses or family members to log on and provide care as needed.