How robots can dramatically improve your hospital’s management of COVID-19
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Whether you work as a physician or in administration, your attention is now squarely focused on reducing COVID-19 risk to your patients and caregivers in any way you can. One emerging solution that can help you achieve this goal is robotics.
New research from the University of California San Diego found that mobile robots in a hospital setting can provide excellent results when it comes to key care areas such as:
The researchers believe that robots could play a big role in cutting COVID-19 infection risk to caregivers by collecting testing swabs from patients and eventually being programmed to do blood draws.
Obviously, this would be a game-changer in terms of decreasing the amount of necessary face-to-face exposure for your clinicians. Also, using robotics in this way could be a great solution for increasing the amount of drive-through testing your hospital may be currently doing.
Doctors could triage and consult with patients at a distance without forgoing important diagnostic steps through the use of a portable/mobile screen-outfitted robotic model.
Decontamination of care areas and patient rooms.
The researchers point out that high-touch surfaces can be dealt with immediately and safely by having remote-controlled robots target high-risk areas and disinfect them. This would remove risk for patients first in their rooms, then for your cleaning staff, as well as clinicians in exam rooms, ORs, and the general public in areas of your facility such as elevators, lobbies and cafeterias.
Delivery of medication in lieu of a human caregiver.
A mobile robot can "round" with meds on a set schedule with great ease, leave meds for a patient to take at their bedside, and then be disinfected throughout the day, saving nurses trips and the hazards of administering simple drugs like pills.
The robots would be able to deliver meds quickly and without the interruptions nurses must also deal with, making sure patients receive the therapy they need without long delays.
Handling of contaminated waste and materials.
Infection issues are easily solved when a robot carries biohazards to disposal areas in lieu of staff.
One company in particular is already filling these needs in a big way. The Boston Dynamics corporation has developed a task-specific robot named Spot that is perfectly designed for the telemedicine side of the work your doctors have previously done with patients face to face.
"Spot" has four legs like a real dog, and can utilize a screen as its "face." Conceivably, physicians in one part of your facility can virtually round as Spot travels from patient room to patient room, maintaining social distancing as it moves.
The robot is already being used to assist in patient treatment at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and has far-reaching potential applications for countless hospitals worldwide.
Also, the University of California San Diego study found that robots provide essential close contact functions such as patient temperature management, too. This means in the short term that nurses don't have to be unnecessarily exposed to COVID-19, and in the longer term, temperature could be monitored at entrance points to your facility. Also, "social" models can act as on-site visitors or companions for patients in quarantine — easing patients' psychological burdens during hospitalization for the virus.
Does all of this sound good? Start your search for implementing robotics into your facility’s care plans by consulting with IT, then doing some research for the models and price points that work for your needs and budgets. This technology is literally a lifesaver — so see how it can revolutionize your safety model now and in the future.
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