Automated machines have recently been replacing numerous positions in different industries. This leads us to wonder if the healthcare field will be next with robotic nurses. There are robots built to accurately perform surgeries, so will nurses be replaced by technology? Not exactly.
3 Robotic Nurses That Already Exist
You might be thinking… “There’s no way a robot could’ve done what I did when (insert something crazy here) happened,” and you’re probably right. The robot nurses of the future are not being designed to take your place, but to act as assistants.
Human interaction is an important aspect of nursing, as you can talk with your patient, build trust, and address any issues they may be having. However, when dealing with infectious diseases, robotic nursing assistants may be the safest way to interact and communicate with those infected. They also can be useful for tasks such as fetching and delivering items, cleaning, and other simple duties.
Here are a few robotic nurses that could be coming to a hospital near you:
At Duke University, engineering and nursing students/staff are working together to build TRINA (Tele-Robotic Intelligent Nursing Assistant). The students and staff were motivated by the outbreak of Ebola to create a safer means to providing care. According to the Intelligent Motion Laboratory, TRINA can complete about 60% of nursing tasks at a 20x slower rate than humans.
Designed at the University of Texas, Poli is a robotic nursing assistant that will not interact with patients but will help with tasks around the hospital. It even has a head, a body, and some ability to speak. In an article published in myStatesman, it was stated that Poli was able to say, “I need some socks” after examining a supply shelf, and then retrieved a pair of from the corresponding bin.
RIKEN and Tokai Rubber are responsible for creating RIBA, a humanoid robot. It is specifically built to assist in transporting patients to different locations. RIBA uses facial recognition and sound to track each person. By using soft materials and a bear-like appearance, the creators hope to limit discomfort and avoid fear from patients.
The Future of Healthcare with Robotic Nurses
The healthcare field will continue to evolve in terms of technology, whether it be concepts such as smart rooms or robotic nurses. There are certainly advantages to having robots help with responsibilities and assist nurses in everyday tasks. Nurses may find it beneficial to have robots complete mundane tasks such as cleaning, stocking items, or anything else that takes away from their time caring for others. Automated machines would also eliminate the time spent layering/removing protective clothing when faced with infective diseases.
We all know that most nurses love their job because of the ability to help other human beings, whether it’s simple or complex. If robots become a means to interact with patients without good reason, will the love for the job slowly fade? Would prospective nurses reconsider their choices?
Along with changing the involvement of a nurse, it would change the experience for a patient. People thrive on human interaction, and bypassing this contact could possibly lead to a more negative environment for patients.
While there are benefits of robots in healthcare, technology cannot replace kindheartedness.