The Development of Healthcare Robotics
The healthcare industry is rapidly increasing its use of service robots and robotics solutions to benefit various tasks like surgery, therapy, and patient diagnostics. This blog will explore the top 5 robotic applications in hospitals for 2023 and shed light on how business owners both within and outside the medical and healthcare industry can improve their businesses through the implementation of robotic solutions.
The Shortage of Medical Staff in Hong Kong Hospitals
The implementation of robotics in the healthcare industry is driven by a shortage of medical staff working in hospitals. Hong Kong's population is ageing rapidly while healthcare professionals remain costly to train and recruit. According to recent research, Hong Kong hospitals are facing a significant lack of medical personnel. The government estimates that Hong Kong will be short of 1,600 doctors and 2,700 nurses by 2030. This has created an urgency for robotics applications across various areas within the healthcare sector, such as surgery, therapy, patient diagnostics and more.
Medical Service Robots are entering Hospitals and the Healthcare Industry
Service robots and robotic solutions are already playing a significant role in some of the world's more advanced medical infrastructures. The following use cases show how robots are currently being used in hospitals, but they will soon grow to cover even more areas of our healthcare as the technology continues to mature and develop.
Top FIVE Robotic Solutions for Healthcare in 2023
1). Surgical Robots
One of the key benefits of robots in healthcare is their ability to perform intricate and delicate surgical operations. The use of robotics in surgeries not only provides improved outcomes for patients but also reduces the time needed for procedures, resulting in significant cost savings for hospitals.
In some of the world's more advanced hospitals, surgical robots are being used to assist procedures by providing precision and accuracy that surpasses human capabilities. These robotic surgical devices reduce the need for hand-eye coordination during surgery and are especially useful for procedures that are performed through tiny incisions. They usually comprise a mechanical arm with a surgical instrument attached and a camera arm that provides surgeons with a magnified and high-definition 3D view of the surgical site. As of 2023, surgical use of robots in hospitals is mostly focused on minimally invasive procedures, but we could soon see wider usage of surgical robotic solutions as the technology continues to advance.
2). Sanitation and UV Disinfection Robots
In addition to surgical robotics, sanitation and disinfection robots are becoming increasingly popular in the healthcare industry, especially after the COVID pandemic. These robots use a combination of UV radiation and chemicals to eliminate germs quickly and effectively from surfaces, keeping hospitals free of contaminants. The robotics technology is highly efficient, as it can cover large areas with minimal human intervention. As such, these robots are frequently used by hospitals to ensure that all surfaces are decontaminated on a regular basis.
Using cleaning robots in hospitals also reduces the need for ongoing human presence at a disinfection site. Health care workers are often exposed to various germs and viruses during the cleaning and disinfection process, which can lead to cross-transmission. Robotic solutions significantly mitigate these risks, and the monetary and time costs to prevent them. Using UV light to disinfect also does not leave any residues or waste, which makes cleaning even more environmentally friendly in the long run.
3). Picking Dispensing Robots
Picking and dispensing robotic solutions are being deployed across many pharmacies to optimise the process of stocking supplies. These robotic systems provide an automated way of handling supply chain management tasks such as items, restocking shelves, loading delivery vans, and more. Additionally, robotic solutions like this are being used for medication management as well. They can be programmed to pick and dispense drugs from a certain source and deliver them to specific departments in an efficient manner.
As of 2023, the marketplace for automated drug dispensing systems is already well-developed, and there are many vendors from which to choose. Today's robots can handle powder, liquids, and highly viscous materials, with much higher speed and accuracy than ever before. By automating processes like this with robotic technology, hospitals can drastically reduce the human capital required while improving the accuracy and timeliness of delivery. Moreover, robotic solutions do not require breaks and are available 24/7, making them ideal for use in the medical industry.
4). Medical Transportation Robots
Medical transportation robots have become increasingly popular in healthcare facilities due to their ability to quickly transport non-emergency items between different parts of a hospital without needing any direct human interaction. These robotic systems can be used for carrying medicines and medical supplies from the pharmacy to other areas of the hospital, as well as for transporting lab results or patient samples from one department to another. These robotic solutions can also be regarded as medicare transportation, to deliver meals and snacks to patients in their rooms.
Medical transportation robotic systems are highly efficient and safe and can significantly reduce human labour costs. Additionally, robots can maintain a consistent speed throughout their journey which reduces the time taken for deliveries especially for long distance medical transportation. As such, robotic technology will become an integral part of hospital operations in many parts of the world in 2023.
5). Rehabilitation Robots
Rehabilitation robotic solutions provide a variety of therapeutic solutions for patients with physical disabilities. These robotic therapies can be used to help improve patient ‘s strength, balance, and or coordination by providing targeted exercises which are tailored to their individual needs. Rehabilitation robotic solutions are often prescribed by a doctor as part of a recovery plan following an illness, injury or even stroke, and they can also be used in areas such as physical therapy and occupational therapy.
Rehab robots are being increasingly used in rehabilitation centres around the world due to their ability to provide accurate feedback on patient progress from session to session without any human involvement. In addition, robotic solutions offer greater flexibility than traditional therapies since they can be easily adjusted according to the individual’s needs. This flexibility means that robotics technology can be deployed at home or in any other convenient location.
What's in the future for robots in the medical industry?
Robotics solutions will only grow in importance as the medical industry continue to look for ways to free healthcare professionals from repetitive and time-consuming tasks and allow them to focus on tasks that require a specialised touch. In addition to the above examples of robots in hospitals, scientists and engineers are also working on robotic solutions like remote robots in surgery, medical micro robots and advanced prostheses to further improve the provision of healthcare and the treatment of patients.
As of 2021, the size of the surgical robot market surpassed $5.2 billion in the US alone. The industry is still expecting a 17.6% compound annual growth rate from 2022 to 2030. Similarly in Hong Kong, the medical robot industry continues to expand as the government launches numerous initiatives to support the development of technology such as the Innovation and Technology Fund and the Technology Talent Admission Scheme.
As robotic surgery continues to evolve over the next few years, it is likely that its use will become even more commonplace and diversified across hospitals and other healthcare facilities. The prospects for robot technology in the healthcare industry looks very bright indeed.
Service Robots and Robotic Systems by HKT
Aside from healthcare, robotics solutions are also increasingly widely used across industries like logistics, construction, manufacturing, and F&B. As robot technology continues to evolve, more and more businesses have been investing in different kinds of robots from automatic vehicle, industrial robots, delivery robots and medical robots.
As Hong Kong's leading service provider in robotic solutions, HKT can customise the most suitable application of robotic automation to catapult the efficiency of your enterprise. From cleaning and sanitation robots to delivery and patrol robots and more, HKT provides the most cost-effective robotic solutions and reliable service available in the market. Get in touch with HKT's robotic specialists and learn more about what we can achieve for your enterprise today.