The prevalence, and intensity of various health issues worldwide are a matter of concern for governments and the general population alike. Healthcare experts are now relying heavily on technological advancements and innovative tools to cope with the increasing challenges. Technology has played a crucial part in enhancing the healthcare system across all the areas such as diagnostics, medicine, treatment, and surgery.
One of the biggest examples of such technologies is robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). The first robot in the medical field was used in the 1980s that provided surgical assistance via robotic arm technologies. Over the years, AI-enabled cloud computing and data analytics have transformed medical robots, expanding their capabilities into many other areas of healthcare.
Robots and artificial intelligence in healthcare are especially transforming surgery procedures with advanced tools such as robotics surgical consumables. These are varied instruments and accessories which are used with computer-assisted surgical systems during surgery. The equipment helps the surgeons perform safe, precise, and accurate minimally invasive surgical (MIS) procedures.
According to the BIS Research market report, the global robotic surgery consumables market projects the growth at a significant CAGR of 11.37% during the forecast period, 2020-2030. Due to the rising demand and application of robotic MIS procedures over traditional surgical procedures, the market is growing rapidly.
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Additionally, applications of robotics and AI enhance the research process in laboratories as they are used to automate manual, repetitive, and high-volume tasks, which enable the technicians and scientists to focus on more strategic tasks that make the research more efficient and accurate.
Benefits of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare
Streamlined workflows and risk reduction provided by such advanced technologies offer value in various ways. Hence, with the growing need and demand for a highly effective healthcare system across the world, government and private stakeholders of the healthcare industry are investing heavily in the technologies. More benefits of robotics and artificial intelligence in healthcare are discussed further:
- Enhanced Accuracy: With the combination of AI and machine learning, the data processing and problem-solving power of the medical tools integrated with these technologies is unprecedented. The tools with AI algorithms are used for various purposes such as diagnostics, surgery, research, and development. One of the main reasons for such varied applications is the ‘ ‘machine’s accuracy and speed surpass human abilities.
The algorithms are based on deep learning principles, which help them learn complicated tasks much faster and more accurately than humans. Moreover, when the most human factors such as feelings, fatigue, and distraction are removed, the chances of mistakes become nil for long, complicated tasks.
This is not to say that these machines can perform the tasks of doctors and nurses, but they can surely assist them in performing better with excellent precision.
- Precise Medicine and Diagnosis: AI works on pattern recognition while processing the data available in the healthcare records, including the old case studies of severe diseases. The algorithms can study thousands of files at once and churn out concrete and detailed facts about any disease that can assist in finding better treatments and cures for the patients.
This also helps the healthcare experts enhance precise diagnostics. For instance, an endoscopic system from Japan can detect colon cancer in real-time with 86% accuracy.
- Remote Monitoring and Treatment: With the enhanced network connectivity and AI application, remote patient monitoring and treatment seems to be possible after all.
The idea of remote treatment has been in discussion for more than a decade, but now it can be applied practically.
Remote patient monitoring uses devices to collect vitals, other patient-specific data points, and information about how an ‘ ‘individual’s condition may be progressing. The combination of AI and remote patient monitoring can be powerful tools to give healthcare professionals an insight into the day-to-day factors that may be impacting an ‘ ‘individual’s health.
In the case of remote treatment, human intervention is required, but machines can perform several complex tasks independently. For instance, in the capsule endoscopy procedure, a tiny wireless camera sits inside a vitamin-size capsule that the patient swallows. As the capsule travels through the digestive tract, the camera takes thousands of pictures that are transmitted to a recorder worn on a belt around the waist.
Capsule endoscopy helps doctors see inside the small intestine — an area that isn’t easily reached with traditional endoscopy procedures.
- Assistance to Healthcare Professionals and Patients: For some mundane tasks such as helping patients with medicines, assisting them with checkups, taking the ‘ ‘patient’s illness history, etc. Robots and AI are proving to be an asset. Some specific robots are designed to help the medical staff focus on other essential aspects of the hospital.
Moreover, the use of robots in complex procedures such as minimally invasive surgeries and complex open-heart surgeries is transforming the treatment techniques. The technologies integrated within the machines, such as a built-in camera, mechanical arms, and surgical equipment, provide more precision, flexibility, and control beyond human capabilities.
Another significant example of the application of robotics can be the prosthetic legs designed by Hugh Herr. The biomechatronic feet enable the user to walk independently. The sensors in these bionic feet connect with the person’s muscles and allow mobility and stability. These sensors are designed to replicate human ‘feet’ functioning for the people who have lost their limb.
The application of robotics and artificial intelligence in healthcare is expected to grow even further alongside various advanced technologies such as machine learning, data analytics, and computer vision. Robots are predicted to evolve to complete tasks more autonomously, efficiently, and accurately.
Various organizations are working in collaboration with technology providers and researchers to explore the next generation of robotics solutions. For instance, Intel Labs China is partnering with the Suzhou Collaborative Innovation Medical Robot Research Institute to establish a medical robotics incubator for startups. This evolution will lead to an increase in automation, drive efficiencies, and provide a solution to some of the greatest healthcare challenges.