In the past, many people were afraid of robots. There are concerns about their cost, safety, and public acceptance. But in recent years, people have become more trusting of robots. As technology advances, certain developments are made to ease the public’s concerns.
In fact, robotics is an important technological innovation that many industries are now taking advantage of. Some industries that heavily rely on robotics include the agricultural sector, the food industry, manufacturing, and the military. But the number one industry that utilizes robots is the healthcare industry.
Professionals in the healthcare industry execute many delicate and important tasks for everyone’s well-being. Most of these tasks need a team of people with certain specializations. These tasks include surgery, medical administration, telehealth, and rehabilitation, among others.
Just looking at these tasks, it’s clear that robotics has become an important part of the healthcare industry, and it’s for several valid reasons.
Lift Burden off of Healthcare Workers
The majority of healthcare workers are overworked. And this fact has become more obvious during the pandemic. When healthcare workers experience burnout, they will be physically exhausted and won’t be able to perform their tasks well. Burnout also comes with mental health risks. In a recent study on Chinese health workers, almost half of them experienced depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
The combination of physical and mental health risks results in errors that can be easily avoided if healthcare workers were in good health.
Thankfully, robots help with this problem. For example, since the pandemic started, one hospital started using a dog-like robot to take vital signs of patients. Other tasks that robots can take over include restocking rooms with supplies, disinfecting common areas, assisting clients at the reception desk, and many more.
Since robots can take over menial and repetitive tasks, healthcare personnel can save a lot of time. And they can use it to do other urgent tasks or get some rest.
While safety has been a primary concern with robotics, it’s also the very reason why the technology is used in the healthcare industry. Take surgical robots for example. These robots don’t get tired as doctors do. This means that these robots can perform long surgeries more easily than human doctors. Despite operating for hours, robots can stay precise, eliminating human error.
Also, the role of robotics in the healthcare industry has become even more significant during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using robots limits the need for human interactions. Thus, they help in limiting the transmission of the virus within hospitals. Usually, for instance, physicians personally operate open MRI machines. But now, there are robots that can do this task instead. Or perhaps a nurse need to draw blood from several patients. To reduce their contact with others, the nurse can use a robot for the task instead.
Support Remote Healthcare Administration
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals are crowded with COVID patients. But hospitals still have to provide other medical services and cater to non-COVID patients. This puts everyone at risk.
Robotics can be used to address this problem since they support remote healthcare administration. For instance, dog-like robots can be used within hospitals to visit COVID patients and make rounds in other non-COVID rooms. And as mentioned earlier, surgery robots exist. They can also be used to operate on patients remotely. This remote functionality will be very valuable in the future.
Robotics in health care doesn’t just directly help doctors and nurses. It also helps patients. Exoskeleton robots are the perfect example. They help in augmenting human abilities to help patients function normally. For example, patients who experience paralysis on their legs can use exoskeleton robots to walk again.
Some robots also provide emotional support to patients. A study on the emotional support robot called Robin showed that it helped child patients become happier by 26 percent. It also reduced their stress levels by 34 percent. There are also robot pets that can keep people company during their recovery.
Robotics and the Future
If robots are being widely used in the healthcare sector now, they will likely play a bigger role in the future. Healthcare personnel may feel like robots are taking over their jobs. It’s a common concern that employees in other industries with robots also have.
But robots can’t really fully replace the care administered by humans. Despite the influence that robotics will have on health care, it will still heavily rely on trained professionals. It will be interesting to see what other robots will be invented to assist in the healthcare industry.