Robots: A Future of Innovation

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How Robots are Enabling, Not Hindering, Hospital Nursing Staff

The influx of technologies over the last several years has created significant new opportunities for organisations and companies around the world. Advancements in how businesses operate, how personnel needs are identified and fulfilled, and how individuals interact with those who provide the goods and services they need have fundamentally changes the trajectory of the business world. However, some industries have been slow to jump on the digital wave of change for a myriad of reasons. Healthcare is one clear example of this delay in adoption, but that is changing for the better.

An Austin, Texas-based company, Diligent Robotics, has recently announced its artificial intelligence robot, Moxi, specifically designed to create more efficiencies in the healthcare arena. The self-proclaimed friendly robot lends a necessary hand with repetitive, often mundane tasks that keep nurses from satisfying their most crucial role in a hospital setting – patient care. With the introduction of advanced technology tools like Moxi, several benefits trickle down to those who rely on the healthcare system for their personal well-being. While much promise exists as healthcare and technology come together, concerns still exist as to how the marriage will ultimately impact patients.

Concerns Over Technology Adoption

Within the healthcare arena, technology adoption has been slow compared to other in-need industries due to a variety of concerns. First, as it relates to the use of robots in a medical setting, some fear that putting lives in the hands of computers puts patients at risk. Having robots help in performing surgical procedures, move patients in and out of bed, or administer prescriptions is not a natural thought for most. Additionally, privacy concerns abound in healthcare technology. The ability to keep patient information safe and secure should be a top priority, but some are wary that technology can deliver on this critical responsibility over time.

Technology adoption in healthcare also raises concerns about the replacement of skilled workers. As robotics are being used more frequently to impact the customer experience in retail environment, manage inventory and cleaning in commercial warehouses, and eliminate the need for actual humans to do certain tasks behind the scenes, the fear of losing jobs on a widespread scale is warranted. However, the state of robotics technology, artificial intelligence, and machine learning today all require some level of human interaction. Adoption in healthcare is moving in the right direction because complete replacement of skilled workers is not on the docket. Instead, technology is meant to improve work environments and empower – not hinder – the work of nurses, clinical staff, and doctors alike.

The Patient Outcome Promise

One driving force behind the recent wave of enthusiasm in healthcare is the promise of improved patient outcomes. According to a group of medical negligence specialists in the UK, staffing shortages throughout the NHS have led to a higher level of burnout and stress among current nurses and clinical staff. Research suggests that administrative tasks, like restocking, preparing patient rooms, and delivery of medications and supplies all take time away from patient care, particularly when there aren’t enough nurses to go around. The ability for Moxi and similar robotic technologies to help in this realm is a powerful method to decrease burnout among nurses, giving them more time to spend with and care for the patients who need their attention.

Nurses who are rushed from one task to the next are prone to making medical errors, missing critical warning signs in patients, and experiencing incredible amounts of stress while on the job. A lack of well-being, and an understanding of these issues among nursing staff, has plagued the NHS for several years. Technology has an opportunity to correct these growing issues, and this realisation is fueling greater adoption across the board.

A Future of Innovation

In the current healthcare environment, robotics and artificial intelligence are already being used on a small scale to assist with surgical procedures, manage scheduling and administrative tasks, and even help with facility cleaning. The introduction of a nursing assistant like Moxi pushes the needle forward for healthcare organisations, giving both time and peace of mind back to staff members who need it the most. Over time, technology may be used more broadly to help with medication administration, patient monitoring, and even self-care solutions that reduce the burden on staff even further.

The intent of technology in healthcare is not to hinder the work of nurses or replace their existence altogether. Instead, the merger of digital tools and the crucial roles nurses and clinical staff play in hospitals offers a future of improved patient outcomes, less burn out among workers, and a healthier patient population as a whole.

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About Author

Jose Calvo
Jose Calvo

Jose Calvo is a health editor with a degree in Journalism and Social Communications, currently writing for several UK publications such as the Talk Health Partnership and Socialist Health. He works for a Leeds digital marketing agency, helping health charities to raise awareness on campaigns about misunderstood or commonly misdiagnosed conditions. Find him on Twitter at @morienus

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