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7/22/2014
07:06 AM
David Wagner
David Wagner
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10 More Robots That Could Change Healthcare

These medical robots bring fresh ideas to healthcare. Ready to see one at your local hospital?
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I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords. Still, as they infiltrate everything from our assembly lines to our living rooms, robots can be just a little disconcerting. Now they plan to conquer the hospital. The first time a robot crawls down your throat or carries you from your bed, you'll likely panic. But before you enlist to fight against the robot threat, remember their purpose -- robots go where we can't, either because of danger or physical limitations. So, before they end up taking over the planet and enslaving humans, they are going to do some amazing things to save our lives.

In fact, robots and medicine go so well together this isn't the first medical robot slideshow we've done. Back in 2012, we covered robots that could do anything from reminding you to take a pill to scraping plaque off your arteries. We showcased more medical robots last year. We just can't get enough.

And for good reason. The medical robot field is growing exponentially. The current $1.7 billion medical robot market is expected to rise to more than $3.7 billion by 2018. And this does not include robots in fire and rescue, military training, and robots designed to improve home life.

It is difficult to estimate just how many robots are wandering the halls of our local hospitals, because it depends on how you define robot. For instance, at least 800 hospitals use telepresence robots. These are rolling devices controlled by doctors and equipped with cameras and tools to allow for remote consultations. There are also "robot surgeons" like the da Vinci, which also require a human to operate them remotely. Both of these are innovative, but they aren't robots so much as remotely operated machines. We wouldn't call a remote control toy car a robot.

For the purpose of this slideshow, we're going to focus more on robots that aren't fancy remote controls for doctors. And when we do talk about remote vehicles, they will include novel approaches that are just too good to ignore. (Spoiler: Doctors use robot "maggots" to drill into your head and eat tumors.)

These amazing robots will do everything from clearing cancerous tumors to helping amputees learn to play music again. They perform more mundane tasks, as well, such as helping patients take medicine, and even throwing up. Why do we need a robot that throws up? You'll have to click through the slideshow to find out. But I promise you'll see a set of really exciting ideas.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/22/2014 | 3:06:49 PM
Re: Kernerworks
@vnewman2- Wow, that's fascinating. Without bringing up anything too horrific or traumatizing for you, could you be more specific on how they are different? I'd love ot know what, if anything, robots could do to fill in those gaps.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/22/2014 | 3:03:35 PM
Re: nifty, but not likely
@glenbren- Costs of robots are coming down. Unfortunately, I don't know the cost of the RIBA, but the Jibo is just $400. that seems nearly impossible 10 years ago. I think the key to making them cost effective is to free up highly trained people from mundane tasks. Every time you have a nurse or therapist helping lift a patient to change their lines, that's time they aren't spending on the stuff that robots can't do.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/22/2014 | 3:01:24 PM
Re: Robot better than I thought!
@imapctnow- At least you know the robot maggot will leave your brain when it is done. :)

and you are right about the blood draw robot. I think this one is eaisly underestimated. Not only in terms of time savings but pain savings. Teaching a robot to do this right, pain-free, the first time, every time will make a huge difference to quality of care.
vnewman2
IW Pick
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
7/22/2014 | 2:54:53 PM
Re: Kernerworks
Re the EXOSKELETON.  3 words.  Sigourney Weaver.  Aliens.

Way cool.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
7/22/2014 | 2:43:12 PM
Re: Kernerworks
@soozyg - I am with you on this one - by far my favorite.  I worked as a lifeguard for about 10 years as a teenager and college student into my early 20s.  I've taken all types of first aid, CPR, and lifesaving classes, held every related certification and taken every necessary training class.  Let me just tell you - the training situations were NOTHING like what actually happened when someone was really drowning.  Nothing at all.  I'm sure the same is the case for trauma training - the closer you can get to real life simulations the better because preparation is EVERYTHING.
cafzali
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cafzali,
User Rank: Moderator
7/22/2014 | 2:06:50 PM
Re: nifty, but not likely
@Dave Telemedicine -- definitely. This is one of those areas where we've sort of missed the boat in terms of quality of care for rural patients and reducing costs. In actuality, there are many small areas that would be better served with a higher quality emergency room and transportation options to better facilities rather than operating an acute care hospital. 

But hospitals are one of those "third rails" of local politics. Nobody wants to lose their local hospital, but the economics of operating one is very difficult. Telemedicine would allow consults with specialists who would not otherwise travel there, you could replace in person folow up visits with them, etc. In reality, there's probably more potential to do real things in this area in medicine than there is in education. 
glenbren
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glenbren,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/22/2014 | 2:04:31 PM
Re: nifty, but not likely
 I think there is a place for robots and telemdeicine in more rural areas. For isntance, the RIBA seems more likely to be useful in place where the population is small and there are fewer people in the workforce to help with care.

Not sure rural area hospitals could afford such robots. My favorites were the maggot types. Pretty icky, but better, if it worked, than any alternative we have now.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Ninja
7/22/2014 | 1:54:21 PM
Robot better than I thought!

Dave I liked these robots more than I thought--the maggot robot I could have done without. Brain cancer or maggot in your head it could be a decision for some. I especially liked the robot that soothed patients so many in the medical area are time stresses and don't have time to provide patients with these soft variables that really make a medical experience positive or negative. I also liked the vein robot since I always have a bruised arm after a blood draw because a vein can't be found!

Henrisha
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Henrisha,
User Rank: Strategist
7/22/2014 | 1:40:50 PM
Re: nifty, but not likely
Aside from hospitals, I see the robot being useful in training centers and schools, too. It's where healthcare workers-to-be receive primary training, after all. I am hoping partnerships between larger and small hospitals will form in order to make this technology more accsesible.
Henrisha
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Henrisha,
User Rank: Strategist
7/22/2014 | 1:39:38 PM
Re: Kernerworks
I'm with you, the Kernerworks would definitely make an impact in healthcare. The training it facilitates is invaluable, considering that it bsaically teaches people to save lives.
<<   <   Page 9 / 11   >   >>
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