Robotics, as a branch of engineering science that constructs and designs machines capable of performing certain actions, has the potential to add significant value to health care. Due to the proneness of humans to errors arising from internal and external factors, robots that are capable of relatively flawless and consistent performance could benefit care delivery and nursing where services are delivered manually (Riek, 2017). This paper will discuss the benefits of robotic technologies in the health care sector with a review of examples and personal experience.
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Example of Clinical Practice Benefits
Previously, robots were often portrayed in mass culture as human-like figures capable of producing metallic voices and awkward limb gestures. Today’s movies represent robots as more human-like and intelligent, yet the reality of using robots is still far from that perception. Automated and intelligent machines are already used in the health care sector, and their functionality, precision, and quantity continue to increase. One example of the implementation of robotics in hospitals is robots that help accomplish daily chores. For instance, robots are used in some clinics to teach people with autism to recognize and reproduce facial expressions (Riek, 2017).
From a scientific standpoint, there is a number of benefits to such innovation. Among them is the decrease in the cost of care delivery. The robot does not require vacations, salary is capable of working 24-hour shifts, and other financial expenses. The initial cost of implementation and maintenance may be high at the start, however, in the long term, the robotic nurse could be economically more efficient than a human one.
The evident drawback of using this robotic technology is the decreased need for human nurses and physicians. As soon as robots are capable of performing tests, physical examinations, and attending to patient’s needs, the demand for educated and skilled health care workers could begin to decrease. However, there is still plenty of time until complete substitution, which provides room for improvement on the clinical labor force market.
As such, Rouleau, Gagnon, and Côté (2015) argue that forming information systems knowledge and skills among health care professionals is a vital step towards increasing the competitiveness of human workers. Arguably, machines will for a long time require human maintenance, adjustment, and navigation, which nurses and other hospital staff should know how to provide. The clinical practice could only benefit from better educated and diversely skilled specialists that are capable not only of caring for human patients but also work in tandem with robotic assistants and deliver top-quality care.
Impact on Personal Practice
After an accident that led me to an acute assessment unit or trauma ward, there I was connected to an automatic vital signs monitor which measured blood pressure, heart rate, and other parameters which were automatically transferred to nurses’ portable devices and used sound alerts in case some indicator was exceeding the normal range. While it was not a robot in a complete sense, it was a multitask AI that fulfilled a critical function, notifying health care personnel if a patient’s life was in danger.
One of the evidently positive features of this robotic device is the constant surveillance and control over the patient’s condition that allows for decreasing the amount of misconduct and negligence. On occasions when a hospital is full of visitors requiring urgent attention, nurses are deprived of the physical ability to provide care and supervision for multiple patients at once. The robot partially relieves such pressure and allows for greater efficiency and volume of services that nurses can deliver.
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On the other hand, overreliance on robotic devices may occasionally have a negative effect on the quality of care and even endanger the life of a patient. If the robot had ceased functioning, I could have begun hemorrhaging without anyone noticing. Although modern robotic systems used in healthcare are usually equipped with failsafe systems and protocols, there is always a chance of error that human persons should be aware of and prevent (Riek, 2017).
A critical malfunction of such equipment may leave a nurse devoid of knowledge about the problems of a person as health care professionals to become accustomed to the automation of vital checks. One possible intervention to increase the safety and security of the robotized environment is to continue regular routing. According to Kieft, de Brouwer, Francke, and Delnoij (2014), such intervention could help maintain the wellbeing of the clinic’s clients. The clinical practice could certainly benefit from practices and policies that even further minimize the chance of error because human life is the ultimate value that requires utmost care and attention.
All things considered, robotics have multiple uses in healthcare that in a certain manner simplify or automate care delivery and constitute patient safety. The usage of intelligent machines brings multiple benefits to the health care sector, including decreased costs of medical services and increased workload capacity of human nurses. On the other hand, it also has significant drawbacks such as decreased demand for non-robot personnel and possible negligence due to overreliance on technology. Educational and administrative interventions could help improve the situation. In my practice, I will try to stay informed about robotic developments in health care and learn to provide my services independently from machines.
Kieft, R. A., de Brouwer, B. B., Francke, A. L., & Delnoij, D. M. (2014). How nurses and their work environment affect patient experiences of the quality of care: A qualitative study. BMC Health Services Research, 14, 249-265.
Riek, L. D. (2017). Healthcare Robotics. Communications of the ACM, 60(11), 68-78.
Rouleau, G., Gagnon, M.-P., & Côté, J. (2015). Impacts of information and communication technologies on nursing care: An overview of systematic reviews (protocol). Systematic Reviews, 19(4), 75-84.