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Tuesday, 29 November 2022 | Vineet Aggarwal


Artificial intelligence is also playing a key role

Till a few years back, it was impossible to fathom the idea that robots could be used as helping hands in the way healthcare organisations are managed. Fast forward a few decades and the advancement in technology has evolved robotics to the extent that healthcare organisations are now considering it for enhanced patient care, waste reduction and cost savings and for efficiencies within organisations.

Automation driven by advanced digital technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics can play an effective role in boosting the efficiency of healthcare professionals by automating tasks that are monotonous and repetitive but require persistent attention to detail.

Additionally, robotics can also assist healthcare organisations to deal with the shortage of healthcare workers including nurses, doctors and allied health professionals. Application of robotics in healthcare range from simple laboratory tasks to complex surgeries that can execute operations on their own or aid a human surgeon. They’re also being used for rehabilitation and physical therapy and to support patients with long-term conditions. With the global medical robotics market expected to reach $20 billion by 2023, here's a look at the promising applications of robotics in healthcare.  

The progress of motion control technologies has further enabled surgical-assistance robots to become more precise. Such robots are assisting surgeons and doctors to achieve high levels of accuracy and speed while performing complex surgical procedures with computer vision?capable and AI-enabled technologies. Additionally, robots are also being pre-programmed to carry out common orthopaedic surgeries, like knee and hip replacements.

Healthcare organisations are increasingly implementing AMRs to help with critical requirements like telepresence, delivery of medical supplies and medication, disinfection as well as freeing up professionals to spend more time with the patients. When AMRs are equipped with mapping capabilities, visual computing or LiDAR (light detection and ranging) systems, they can self-navigate hospital or exam rooms, allowing doctors to interact from a safe distance. When controlled by a remote specialist, AMRS can also accompany physicians as they make rounds in the hospital, allowing a specialist to contribute through an on-screen consultation regarding patient care and diagnostics. Some robots are also assisting healthcare organisations before patients’ check-ins. For instance, an autonomous robot developed in Mexico is helping medical staff to deal with high-risk COVID patients. It triages every patient by taking their medical history, temperature and blood oxygen level when they arrive at the hospital. The benefit of social robots is that they can interact with humans directly. These robots can be utilised in long-term care scenarios to provide monitoring and social interaction. They may help patients to follow their treatment regimens or contribute towards cognitive engagement, helping them keep alert and positive.

Service robots reduce the burden on healthcare professionals by automating routine logistical tasks. The majority of service robots can function autonomously and even send reports after completing a task. The robots are capable of setting up patient rooms, tracking supplies, filing purchase orders, restocking medical supplies and transporting bed linens from and to laundry facilities. Also, they can assist with disinfection and cleaning. These service robots may use UV light, air filtration or hydrogen peroxide vapours to help reduce the risk of infection and sanitize places in a uniform manner.

While robotics is already bringing a paradigm shift in healthcare services, more is expected over the years to come with further advancements in technology. Therefore, it becomes imperative for healthcare organisations to look at the long-term benefits and immense potential of robotic technologies and invest in them to better manage their organisations.

(The author is CIO, Paras Healthcare Group)

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