ROBOTICS IN THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY & FAMOUS NURSE ROBOTS

Over the last few decades, technology has advanced at a rapid rate and spread around the globe. The affordability and accessibility of technology has brought many benefits, including better scientific research, improved quality of life, and a higher average life expectancy in a number of countries.

With the implementation of new technologies, automated machines have become more affordable and effective. The roots of the automation are found in the industrialization and the beginning of mechanization. Since then, automated processes have steadily been gaining importance; and today production processes are largely automatized and industrial machines and robots are implemented to relieve workers from heavy manual work. For some years, robotic support has been spreading into a new sector: the everyday life assistance. Nowadays there are robots that help with domestic work. In the future, however, robots should not only be able to vacuum and support people with managing issues of everyday life but even take care of older adults, especially the ill or disabled among them.

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Japan and Robots

Although nursing robots are far away from completely replacing “real” nurses and caregivers, there are already some “plate men” nursing people, most notably in Japan. For Alec Ross, Japan’s success in the robotics sector does not only depend on their technological know-how, since other countries would have the knowledge and the technical possibilities as well. The relatively high acceptance of robots in Japan is based on a cultural deposition. 80% of the Japanese practice the Shinto religion, which includes a belief in animism, i.e. attribution of a spirit to objects. Consequently, Japanese society is more likely to accept robotic assistance than Western culture, where the threat of humanity creating things that they cannot control can be found in literature and tales, see the most famous example Frankenstein.

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Ethical Decision-Making

The main challenge in creating robotic nurses is the problem of programming a machine with a reliable set of ethics.

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A robot nurse will have to make complicated decisions regarding its patients on a daily basis. Since its function will involve giving advice that will determine the health of human beings, it will need to have an ethical system that will allow it to properly carry out medical agenda while treating patients with respect. For example, if a robot is programmed to remind its patients to take their medicine, it needs to know what to do if the patient refuses. On one hand, refusing the medicine will harm the patient. On the other hand, the patient may be refusing for a number of legitimate reasons that the robot may not be aware of. For instance, if the patient feels ill after taking the medicine, then insisting on administering the medicine may turn out to be harmful. Leaving a reminder and ignoring any human response is also impractical because the robot will be replacing a human nurse, whose job is to make sure the patient is receiving proper care. Moreover, what if the patient agreed to take the medicine, and then forgot? Should the robot stay and monitor the patient until the medicine is taken, or is that a violation of privacy? When and how should the robot inform the doctor if anything goes wrong?

This scenario is an everyday situation that human nurses navigate with ease. The human brain can assess a situation not only based on data that it directly receives through its senses, but it can also logically process other signs, such as the look of a person or the intonation of a response. If there is not enough data to make a decision, a human can figure out which questions to ask in order to receive more information. Humans also have a complicated ethical system that is able to not only weigh the good against the bad, but is also able to make judgments about the degree of benefit of a given course of action. Robots cannot make decisions on such a level. Current technology only allows them to force a “yes” or “no” decision regardless of how much information is available. This is clearly not an adequate system for advanced ethics, so a new approach to decision making must be found.

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Benefits of Robots nursing People

As an ageing society is becoming a challenge for more and more countries, the development of non-human nurses will be essential to cope with the lack of human caregivers. In the future, robots will assist older people at home, in hospitals and foster homes. One of the robots’ main benefits is that they are comparably cheap labour. Moreover, there are more retired people than people who work. As a result, this will lead to an increase of pension and, consequently, cheap nursing staff will be essential to handle supply and demand and to make sure that nursing will remain affordable.

Additionally, nursing robots will take on physical demanding work like carrying or moving people. Especially, when nursing immobile or handicapped people, the assistance of robots will be a great relief for nurses and caregivers.

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Famous Nurse Robots

Robotics in healthcare is well past its early developmental stage. So much so, robot nurses have become well-known for their contributions to the healthcare industry.

Robot Dinsow

Used by Thai and Japanese hospitals for patient care, Robot Dinsow monitors elderly patients via video and sets up video chats with their relatives. It also alerts caregivers of patient activity by phone. Additionally, it provides reminders for medication and exercise and exercises alongside the elderly. Finally, it provides entertainment by offering games and karaoke.

Robot Paro

This seal-like robot is used in hospitals and extended-care facilities the world over. It stimulates interaction between patients and caregivers. It also helps to relax patients by imitating the voice of a baby harp seal, Additionally, it adapts to patient behavior in part through its five sensor types: light, audio, temperature, posture, and tactile. Overall, this robot helps to reduce patient stress, improve their relaxation and motivation, and improve their socialization with caregivers and their peers.

Robot Pepper

This humanoid robot works the reception area of two Belgian hospitals, greeting people and guiding patients to their proper department. It can recognize 20 languages and can identify gender, and can identify joy, sadness, anger, and surprise. It can also interpret non-verbal cues like head tilts, frowns, smiles, and shifts in vocal tones.

Pepper also “sees” through two high-resolution cameras and a 3D camera. It’s also equipped with shape recognition software that processes captured images. Twenty engines and three multi-directional wheels allow the robot to move at a maximum speed of 3 km/h, and its six laser sensors, two ultrasound transmitters, and three obstacle detectors in its legs help it identify the distance of objects within a 3-meter range.

How Nurse Robots Create and Expand Career Opportunities

As robots continue to become more common in healthcare, the need for robotic coordinators to oversee robotic duties will create a new job opportunity. The need for robotic telemedicine will also increase, as patients living in rural areas or those in urgent need of a specialist can receive a diagnosis and treatment plan via a robot controlled remotely through a desktop, laptop, or mobile device. Robotics will also increase research opportunities, as nurses can use their awareness of what’s needed in the healthcare environment to participate in the technological advancement of developing robots.

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Conclusion

Today’s healthcare is undoubtedly an exciting, rapidly evolving industry. Technology companies have noticed the needs in the healthcare setting and are continuing to develop and advance the needs in the healthcare setting and are continuing to develop and advance technologies that will benefit both the patient and the healthcare professional. As a result, students entering the field will face challenges and opportunities in adopting and adapting new technologies.

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