Medical robots are becoming more and more widely used nowadays. Here are some interesting facts about the latest advances in healthcare robotics.
Robots have been more a fixture of science fiction stories than of any sort of reality which most of us inhabit on a day-to-day basis. But in fact, they are becoming more and more of a reality every day. Simple robots are now becoming part of public consciousness if they have not yet reached the mainstream popularity. Robots available to the public are used for basic tasks only – they can be integrated with Alexa and fulfil all the functions that she does, as well as being able to phone people and act as a baby monitor – but this is still a far cry from the all-singing all-dancing robots of science fiction.
Medical robots have been a goal for some time, due to the physical capabilities that these pieces of machinery can offer us – increased strength, speed, and precision can all minimise the risk of surgery, as well as accelerating the healing process by making less of an impact on the surgical site overall. Robots are seen as particularly valuable in the medical field because they represent a step up from the old method of having to rely on humans. Humans are fallible; robots are not (though their coding can be) robots are quicker, stronger, and more precise than humans, particularly after long hours in a surgery.
Medical robots have only recently become part of the medical lexicon because we have only recently perfected the technology which will allow them to function to the degree necessary for carrying out operations. Electric actuators are a big part of this, as they have revolutionised our ability to control linear movement and precision in all kinds of processes, including the ones required in medical robotics.
Seventy Percent Drop in Infection Rates
Using medical robots as a means of carrying out operations in hospitals has meant that the infection rate has dropped dramatically. There are a number of reasons for infections being an issue – the longer a wound is open, the more likely it is to attract foreign objects and airborne particles which are detrimental to a patient and their overall health. On another note, simple human error can be a problem – everyone needs to wear specific clothing, wash up, and wash the surgical tools very well, but mistakes can be made.
There are also pushes to make a robot which is, in effect, a walking cleaning robot, and it is being made for many of the same reasons. A robot which is in charge of hygiene will be better than a human doing the same thing for a number of reasons.
One is that it is more efficient than humans, getting more done in a shorter time. Another is that it is simply more effective than a human, because it is not subject to human error. A robot will not forget to clean areas, or get confused with tasks: it can be programmed to do specific things, and it will do them.
Medical robots eliminate both these problems to a huge degree. They can work faster than humans, so the wound site will be open to air and potential infection for a much shorter length of time, thus reducing the risk of infection.
Similarly, having a robot involved in surgery is much more hygienic because it reduces human error. Yes, the robot still needs to be clean, but it can be sterilised in much the same way as the other tools can.
Robots Can Be Used as Receptionists
There are two hospitals in Belgium which have recently put into a place a robotic reception system over a human one. While a lot of people might prefer the human touch in cases like these, particularly in a hospital (where speaking to a human might keep someone calmer than if they had to attune to interacting with a robot), a robot will be incredibly useful.
The increasing digitalisation of society means that more and more is happening online. Giving a robot a connection to the internet and installing specific programmes is all that is required for it to be able to do its job under the circumstances, where if there was a human involved, there would be the need for training and specialised equipment.
Another reason for installing robot receptionists is, again, the elimination of human error. Hospitals are primarily areas for healing sick people, so having random people wandering around is not something that anybody wants.
A robot receptionist will be able to give clear and accurate information about where a patient should go and when, allowing for far fewer people getting lost on the way to appointments and seeing their loved ones.