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Is there a robot in the house?

meg bryant | healthcare dive | 16 December 2016 

To read the full article in Healthcare Dive, click here.

Robots are showing up across the healthcare spectrum, surgical robots. Tugs, an autonomous robot, is being used to transport food, medical supplies and biohazardous wastes at UCSF Medical Center at Mission in San Francisco, improving hospital efficiency and freeing up staff. A robot made by San Antonio-based Xenex uses ultraviolet light to zap germs like MRSA and C. difficile in a fraction of the time of traditional disinfection methods. And researchers from MIT, the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the University of Sheffield recently developed an origami robot that can retrieve a swallowed battery or patch an internal wound.

Whether eliminating drudgery in hospital work, providing new levels of precision in the OR, distributing food and medication, assisting with rehabilitation or helping kids with autism practice social skills, robots are changing the way receive care.

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Commenting on the topic, Milind Kamkolkar said: While costs of healthcare robots are dropping, more affordable medical training programs are needed to drive utility and adoption of new skill sets and capabilities. “A lot of this is largely due to a lack of medical training both at an early stage within medical school, as well as training predominantly centered in large medical centers as opposed to mid-size centers.  Applications like virtual reality could help address this need.”

Milind added: The role of a physician itself is being redefined to focus on empathy-based treatment and wellness management versus sick care management.  It is not about replacing clinicians but rather redefining and creating new roles for medical practice. There could always be the possibility for a medically regulated drone to do a house call in the future.” 

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