Medicine is a field which is continually advancing and continually developing. This is easy to see when you consider where medicine is now compared to 100 years ago. It is also clear to see from the advances made in patient care during that time. While this can be evidenced in modern approaches to patient care and the wide range of roles in modern healthcare, nowhere is it felt more keenly than in nursing.

Contemporary nursing highlights medicine’s progress

Modern nursing has undoubtedly developed since the profession’s early days and offers outstanding patient outcomes now as a result. Best practices which have emerged in nursing over time (such as regular hand washing and infection control procedures) are testament to this. The ever-growing importance of nurses within medicine and the greater respect shown to them across the sector is another example of how this profession has changed over the years.

For both nursing and medicine in general, it is also clear how big a role technology plays in modern healthcare. The range of tech devices and the crucial role of IT systems/platforms in modern medicine shows this to be true. With this in mind, robotics in medicine merits further discussion.

But what role do they play, how are they used, and why do nurses need to stay on top of such developments to help their careers?

What is the role of robotics in medicine?

In simple terms, robotics are used in medicine to perform certain tasks or jobs. In many ways, this is similar to how robotics have become common sights in many factories or manufacturing companies. Rather than a human healthcare professional carrying out certain tasks, specially designed robots are used in their place.

The robotics used in medicine are very sophisticated and use cutting-edge technology to operate. While many still require human user input to work, the next generation of medical robotics is set to use high-level AI/machine learning to be more independent.

When it comes to medicine in general, it is clear to see how crucial a role robotics plays now and will continue to play in the future. It is also something that could impact the future of nursing specifically and this makes learning about robotics a good idea for nursing professionals. To help with this, the courses offered at Elmhurst University Online are the ideal place to start.

How are robotics used in medicine?

Although we may not see robotic machines interacting with patients directly in most settings yet, modern healthcare does make use of them in certain situations. The types of robots used in medicine include:

  • Robots for surgery
  • Robots in the medical supply chain
  • Hospital robots
  • Robots for cleaning/disinfecting rooms in clinics/hospitals

Although this might not seem such a long list, these kinds of robotics are already having a major influence on the medical industry. They also show how the latest robotic tech is something that has become more common across healthcare in recent times.

What other uses could there be for robotics in medicine?

As you may expect, many companies involved with designing devices for the medical field are working hard to bring other robotics into play. One example of this is care robots that could share the workload of looking after patients with human nurses.

These kinds of medical robots (such as the Robear Japanese) are starting to be seen in low numbers around the world but are expected to become more central to healthcare in the near future. While this could be the case in the USA, it is expected that tech-centric countries such as Japan or South Korea will be the first to adopt them on a large scale. Common tasks these robots are designed to carry out include taking blood, monitoring patients, and reminding them to take medication.

In addition to care robots, it is believed that therapeutic robotics could soon become integral within medicine. As with care robots, this technology already exists and has been utilized in some countries. These robots are designed to interact with patients, keep them mentally occupied, and make them feel happier.

Exoskeletons are also on the horizon

Alongside care robots and robotic therapeutic devices, exoskeletons are something many believe will soon be rolled out across the medical sector. Cyberdyne’s HAL suit is a great example; it uses sensors placed on the skin to send electrical signals produced within the patient’s body to generate movement in the exoskeleton.

It is hoped that this example of medical robotics will help people recover from conditions such as strokes or spinal cord injuries. This is a fast-growing field in medical robotics and could even incorporate brain-machine connections in future. When it comes to the latest health news, advancements like exoskeletons really do warrant further investigation.

What is the impact of robotics in medicine?

Although the thought of robotics in a patient-facing role such as medicine might surprise some people, it can actually have a very positive impact. This means that medical robotics has some unique benefits for both patients and healthcare facilities/staff.

But what are the most important when it comes to robotics used in medicine right now? The best place to start is robotic surgery as this is perhaps the most widely used type of robotics across the sector.

Robotic surgery is not only less invasive than traditional surgery but also includes a smaller chance of infection. The technology used is also very precise, and allows surgeons to have more accurate control of any operation they perform. All this leads to better outcomes for patients and better recovery times.

Cleaning robots are already used by many healthcare facilities now, and which have their own advantages. These robots clean to a very high standard and clean more rooms in a shorter space of time than human staff. In addition, cleaning robots in medicine enable nursing staff to devote time to other tasks and keep them safe from having to clean a room where an infectious patient might be.

Supply chains and hospital robotics also have an impact

As noted previously, hospital robots are used in many facilities now globally. Their main job is to transport medication, files, specimens, or other materials within healthcare facilities. This cuts back on the amount of time human healthcare staff spend doing this and gives them more time to focus on patients. Hospital robots use sophisticated mapping technology to get around and so never get lost or take an illogical route to their destination.

Outside of healthcare facilities, robotics in the medical supply chain also have an impact. By using robotics for order picking, medical supply firms are able to fulfill orders faster and more accurately. This ensures that medical facilities get the supplies they ordered more quickly and without any processing errors.

What impact could future robotics have in medicine?

Care robots, such as the Sumitomo Riko, have a number of potential benefits for medicine. They are designed to carry out repetitive patient care tasks without getting bored or tired, for example. This not only means patients get better care with less chance of mistakes but also that nursing staff have more time to spend on other tasks. They can also lighten the workload of nursing staff who may be overstretched.

Therapeutic robots in medicine are always available to interact with patients and make them feel better. These robots not only free nurses to carry out other key tasks but also lead to a better experience for patients, especially those who feel down or depressed.

Exoskeletons could have a huge impact on people who are recovering from certain conditions. By making it easier to move around while recovering, they enable patients to live a normal life and stay active. Using an exoskeleton could also speed up recovery by forging mind-body movement connections faster.

Will patients respond well to more robotics in medicine?

When you look at the general trend for tech in society and robotics in healthcare, it seems clear that both will only grow in future. While this is something professionals and facilities in the sector should welcome overall, it is also pertinent to consider how patients will react.

This could be especially interesting when talking about the medical robotics patients interact with directly. At present, surgical robots or robots that clean or transport items around a facility are not something patients engage with. This means people do not really pay them any attention or think twice about their presence.

As innovations such as care robots and exoskeletons begin to appear more often, , this might not be the case. These are examples of medical robotics that people will have much more direct experience with. In the case of care robots, this is a very different care than patients are used to getting from human nurses.

It is more than likely that patients will start to accept robotics like these in medicine as they get more familiar with them. Despite this, people are still likely to value interaction with human healthcare staff, and this means human nurses will always be needed. This is especially true when you consider that there are still certain tasks robots in medicine cannot complete.

Why do nurses need to keep up with robotics to help their careers?

Although not every current or future example of robotics in medicine relates directly to nursing roles, it is an area professional nurses should keep up with. This is key for helping their career and ensuring they do not hit a glass ceiling. But why is this the case?

An important point to begin with is how keeping up with healthcare robotics makes nurses more tech-savvy overall. Technology is a major part of nursing now, and this means contemporary nurses need to be comfortable with using technology. As advances like robotics, AI, and telehealth become more common in the sector, nursing staff must be familiar with them in their day-to-day job.

Why else is keeping up with medical robotics vital for nurses?

Making efforts to learn about robotics in medicine and how you might need to use them when nursing is also key for sustaining your career. Nursing is a profession that is always advancing and uses the latest developments to refine best practices.

Robotics is a fine example, and anyone who works as a nurse should know about it in order to avoid being left behind. With hospital robots and cleaning robots already used in many settings, it is key that nurses know how to operate them. When care robots begin to appear on wards as well, it is clear why knowing about robots in health will be key.

It is also essential for nurses to know about medical robotics in terms of career progression. As this is a field in medicine which is growing quickly, it is sensible to assume that many roles will involve robotics in the near future.

Important if you are switching careers into nursing

Knowing about robotics in nursing is also important for non-nurses who might be looking at switching careers into the sector. With a 6% growth in nursing jobs from 2021 to 2031 projected by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and superb job satisfaction, moving into nursing from other industries is a choice many people make. It is essential to keep on top of the latest developments in nursing, such as robotics, if you are to get the most from making this switch.

Medical robotics is the future of healthcare

Medicine is a fast-changing sector that is always evolving. As a result, it has seen lots of change over time in terms of how patients are cared for, how surgeries are carried out, and how nurses operate. This is very true in modern healthcare, where robotics has started to become a more common sight.

While this may be mainly in areas such as cleaning, moving items within a facility, surgery, and the medical supply chain, it seems other advances in medical robotics will be made soon. It is therefore key for any nursing professional to get up to speed with how robotics may affect their role in order to not only sustain but also grow their career.

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