We are celebrating human efforts on Labor Day 2012, but there may come a day when we hail the contribution of robotic labor to the U.S. workforce. Robots are automating many jobs in many industries, and healthcare is no exception.
The jobs that they are taking over range from the menial – tugging carts and navigating them through busy hospital corridors – to the sophisticated – dispensing medication in a hospital pharmacy. And although surgical robots haven’t displaced any surgeons, they have made their lives, and those of patients, much easier.
Here are a few robots shaking up the labor pool in healthcare.
Aethon’s TUG System
This one’s no R2-D2 and won’t tug at your heart strings. But it will tug carts containing medication, linen, food up and down through hospital elevators, navigate hospital corridors and deliver whatever it is carrying to desired destination.
Aethon promises that the Tug System will boost productivity – it does not need food or bathroom breaks – and increase patient satisfaction so that nurses focuses on patient care instead of delivering medication and taking away food trays. The other big benefit is it saves money. One TUG system saves the labor of nearly three full-time equivalents, while costing less than one FTE in a 300-bed hospital.
Here’s how Sinai Hospital in Maryland is using the TUG system.
McKesson’s Robot RX
Human beings may be crowning jewels of evolution, but they are also little petri dishes able to contaminate anything they touch and deeply error prone to boot.
All those are less-than-desirable qualities in the sterile setting that is the hospital pharmacy. And that’s where McKesson’s Robot Rx comes in.
The system can store more than 25,000 medications, improve inventory management, reduces picking errors and enable random quality checks of robot-picked medications in certain states that allow this. This reduces the need for pharmacist check.
According to McKession, More than one third of medium and large U.S. hospital pharmacies are using automated system to collectively dispense 350 million medication doses error-free annually.
RoboCourier is an autonomous mobile carrier that can carry and transport small weights – up to 50 pounds. It is specifically for use in laboratories within hospitals. It can activate automatic doors, navigate hallways and knows how to avoid obstacles.
Like its other robotic counterparts, the RoboCourier saves time, money and increases productivity. Here’s how Florida Hospital Orlando is using its robotic transporter Robie.
Of course healthcare robots do more than simply share the load of labor in carrying, transporting and reducing human error. Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci robot surgety system is a ground breaking technology in minimally invasive surgery. What’s more, it is also a cool break dance partner.