Indeed, at Changi General Hospital (CGH), more than 50 staff are robots.
From surgery to administrative work, robots have become an integral part of the 1,000-bed hospital workforce, says Selina Seah, director of the Center for Healthcare Assistive and Robotics Technology (CHART), which works with CGH to find cutting edge technologies. solutions to health problems.
While CHART has been operating since 2015, the pandemic has created a new need for contactless and remote health solutions.
Singapore already has the highest industrial robot adoption rate in the world, at 9 per 100 workers, but that’s mostly in the electronics sector. Now Seah hopes robots can make healthcare more accessible, affordable and of better quality, as well as safer in the event of a pandemic.
“There is a growing awareness that robots are becoming more and more important in our work,” Seah says. “Due to Covid-19 and the fact that we have to take care of more patients with less manpower, robots are now an integral part of our daily life.”
“The three tsunamis”
This is where robots can help. CHART tries to increase productivity by using assistive technology and robotics.
Surgical robots such as the da Vinci Surgical System are among the hospital’s best-known robots, Seah explains. These robots act like the eyes of the human surgeon, assisting minimally invasive surgeries.
Outside of operating rooms, other robots clean, deliver linens or food, help with hospital maintenance, help with patient rehabilitation, and even help put patients back to bed, helping thus reducing the “back-breaking” work that human caregivers do, says Seah.
“It’s quite common for our young nurses to have back pain after two or three years of work. Robots can do this dangerous manual work so that our nurses can then focus on providing good clinical care to our patients, ”says Seah.
A smart solution
Another area where CGH has seen an improvement in technology is virtual health services.
Social robots have also been deployed to provide care and support for elderly patients with dementia, playing memory games and helping with group therapy. One of the social robots, PARO, helped relieve stress and anxiety so much that the hospital was able to reduce its use of sedatives for dementia patients, Seah explains.
“We thought that elderly patients would not accept robots well,” she says. “However, we have found in our research that elderly patients view robots as life-size toys. They are therefore taken back to their childhood and, in fact, able to interact and respond better to therapy with robots than they are. with a human. ”
“More Meaningful” Lives
Helping healthcare workers take on roles that are laborious or require high levels of precision is where robots can contribute the most, says Marcelo Ang, professor of mechanical engineering at the Center for Advanced Robotics at the National University of Singapore.
The opportunity to increase efficiency and safety, especially during difficult times like the Covid-19 pandemic, made the challenges interesting for CGH.
“This is how we think we should use technology: to help us reach more patients so that they receive better quality care,” she says.
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