Every innovation pushes us inevitably towards a future where the tasks get completed instantaneously with few or no errors. Medical robotics is touted as one of the most significant technological feats of our lifetimes. It has eased the pressure on medical experts by playing a vital part in various disciplines of the medical world such as multispecialty robotic surgery, neurosurgery and orthopaedic surgery.
Now, the question arises: how is the advancement in medical robotics beneficial for doctors in achieving improved health outcomes? A paradigm shift in medical technology led to the first surgical robot’s clinical introduction to perform selective brain biopsies in 1985. Another such extraordinary invention came to the forefront in 2000 with the inception of the world’s first robot-assisted surgery system, Da Vinci, which the FDA approved in 2002. This system helped surgeons to perform complex surgery in the most minimally invasive manner. Additionally, various other medical robots effectively facilitate doctors, nurses, and other medical staff by automating tasks and helping with patient care. For example, they prepare and hand out medications in pharmacological labs; they deliver bed linens and meals to patients. Not only this, the robotic attendants help people affected by paralysis to move and even assist them with physical therapy. From personal assistants to surgical robots, medical robotics has left its footprints in all healthcare verticals.
The biggest advantage of medical robots is that they eliminate the need for a human presence near the patient at all times. Medical robots have proved to be highly beneficial in closely monitoring patient vital information and alerting the medical staff during an emergency. This helps the medical personnel to focus on other emergencies and responsibilities.
Medical robots are used to input data such as patient’s blood pressure, weight, pulse oximetry, height measurement, blood analysis, urine analysis, cardiovascular risk analysis, and Accu-Check glucose meter into patients’ records. They work four times faster than humans, which allows the medical staff to attend to other critical medical tasks.
Medical robots also assist doctors in routine administrative tasks such as providing medical supplies and hospital disinfection that are highly time-consuming and essential. Many medical robots have an inbuilt ultraviolet light disinfection system that helps disinfect hospitals. It emits high-intensity UV light, which damages the DNA, RNA, and proteins inside the microorganisms.
Medical robots assist surgeons inside the operating theatre, too. They have drastically improved the operation procedures through explicit and accurate motions of the necessary tools with extra control. Many complicated and risky surgeries that require longer recovery period are now performed with minimal incisions, resulting in less blood loss, lower risk of wound infection and a shorter hospital stay. Robot-assisted surgery facilitates surgeons to operate with better precision, flexibility, and control than conventional surgery.
In recent times, medical robots have been acting as a shield against the Coronavirus. AI-powered chatbots such as Covidbot (France) have been designed for contactless screening of coronavirus symptoms. These have been helping in reducing the risk of coronavirus infection among the hospital staff and lessening their workload by efficiently managing the patient flow.
From microbots that remove plaque from arteries to the nanobots that are being used for targeted therapies to the larger robots that assist as the personal companion of patients, medical robots have emerged as dependable workmates for doctors, surgeons, and other medical staff. With advantages and future benefits, medical robots are changing healthcare in ways we can only imagine. The technology will change how medicine is practiced in the next 10 to 20 years and the patient will be the ultimate beneficiary of these innovative efforts.
Dr. Vishwa Srivastava, COO & President – South Asia, SS Innovations
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