A robot can bedefinedas any mechatronics device that is designed and functional in executing tasks which may be repetitive, unsafe, difficult or impossible for a human. Robots in healthcare may also be utilised if they are capable of executing tasksbetter, or more efficiently, than a human.
Key focus areas for development and implementation of Robotics in the Healthcare industry include:
Repetitive tasks such a blood sampling and heartrate monitoring
Robotic assistance for those needing care
Development of Exoskeletons and further innovations.
Robots are designed to take on repetitive tasks, tasks that require extreme precision, or tasks that run a danger to human employees. This could be anything from conducting keyhole surgery, to transporting medical products, to monitoring vitals in patients. These robots, in theory eliminate risk for both healthcare providers and patients, and take on repetitive tasks that may be burdening nurses or doctors in hospitals that are already over-stretched.
Whilst robotics in Healthcare has the potential to transform the face of Healthcare, massively reduce provider costs, and save lives in countless ways, there are a number of risks making providers wary of investing in Robotics in their hospitals:
Replacing Human Workers
As in any industry, many in the Healthcare world fear that robots will ultimately replace a huge percentage of Healthcare workers, particularly nurses.
What if the Robot Breaks Down?
Replacing workers with robots may be cost-efficient when they are fully functioning, however, a lack of human support can be a massive problem when there is a problem with robotic software or programmes. In the manufacturing industry, for example, Jim Wilkes of Zurich, gave the following example:
“I have been to a warehouse in the UK where employees enter a code to request a particular part and it is automatically transported to them. On the day I visited, this automated system wasn’t working, so employees were climbing up on to the racking to fetch the parts they needed, which presented obvious health and safety risks.”
The Future of Robots for Healthcare
Ultimately, providers looking to introduce new robotics in their business need to ensure they think through new roles for those that risk being replaced with robots. Companies will have to look closely at the skillsets of their employees, as the nature of the skills required will undoubtedly change.