For years, experts have been researching for different ways to integrate robotics in medical applications. However, there has been a slow robotic uptake in the healthcare industry until recently.
Researchers are still exploring various ways to integrate robotics in the medical sector amid the growing popularity of cobots in the industry. Many hospitals today are even using collaborative robots in the operating room.
Understanding the Slow Robotic Uptake in the Past
Experts use the first surgical robot as an indication that robots are popular in healthcare. Still, there has been slow uptake of surgical robots in the past.
Robotic surgery, also known as robotic-assisted laparoscopy emerged in the 1980s with the first successful surgery being performed in 1985 when a robot was used to enhance accuracy in neurosurgical biopsies. By 2010, hospitals had not yet fully adopted the use of surgical robots with studies indicating that hardly 150 hospitals across the world had a surgical robot.
The slow uptake was attributed to the fact that governing bodies were yet to approve robots as safe tools for use in theater. The FDA first approved the inaugural surgical robot that was used for neck and head surgery in the year 2000.
Currently, there has been tremendous changes in the industry and studies indicate that approximately 45% of hospitals in the USA had almost 10 surgical and medical robots in the year 2017, all of which had been approved by the FDA.
Surgery is among the most popular and successful robotic application in healthcare. Still, there are various robotic applications in the sector such as rehabilitation, telepresence, transportation of medicine, dispensing of a prescription, and sanitation. Here are collaborative robotic applications in the medicine and healthcare industry today.
Many advanced healthcare robots are designed for specific applications unlike in the manufacturing industry where general use robots are more common. Many people may doubt the effectiveness of collaborative robots in medicine.
However, Universal Robots experts opine that advanced the small industrial robot available in the market today can execute different tasks in medicine and healthcare sector accurately as seen below.
The packaging of Medical Devices
Packaging is a favorable collaborative robotic application. Medical devices present packaging challenges for packaging robots. For instance, sterilization is critical for devices that will come into contact with humans.
When human employees execute such tasks, there is a high likelihood of contamination which could compromise the purity of the products. Cobots can minimize or even eradicate the risk of contamination. They are capable of executing packaging tasks within a sterile environment effectively.
Collaborative robots currently being used to assist neurosurgeons to perform surgery. For instance, Synaptive Medical has leveraged on a small industrial robot from Universal Robots to create a collaborative robot based product for use by neurosurgeons.
The cobot comes in handy in positioning a digital microscope, enabling neurosurgeons to capture the ultimate view of the surgery, hence enhancing precision. If surgeons want to maneuver the robot in the middle of a procedure, they can either use the software interface to direct it to move or move it physically.
Numerous tests are carried out in medical labs daily across the world. Blood, for instance, may require lots of repetitive tests which is where collaborative robots come in. A Copenhagen University Hospital was tasked in performing 3,000 tests every day.
The team deployed two robots from Universal Robots in their processes. These helped them to enhance their productivity. While there was a 20% increase in the workload, the team was able to deliver approximately 90% tests within one hour.
Currently, a startup company is using two robots from Universal Robots to give you a complete body massage. The robots use round end effectors which rotate over the skin. The therapeutic massage application is one of the most realistic in the healthcare industry even though it’s not designed to solve problems existing in the healthcare industry.
The ultimate collaborative applications are designed to solve actual problems not just within the healthcare and medicine sectors, but in various applications in the business world.