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5 reasons why robots in medicine shouldn’t scare you

By Salt Lake Regional Medical Center  |  Posted Sep 14th, 2017 @ 9:00pm


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If you harbor fears of robots in medicine you are not alone. Consumers are quick to embrace technological advancements everywhere but in the health care industry.

Unlike other industries that technology touches, health care directly involves human lives. Innovation and adoption of medical technologies have been historically slow. X-ray, MRI, radiology, CT scan, defibrillators all represent technological advancements that underwent intense scrutiny. But where would be without them today?

Like most things that people fear, the cause is typically not having all the information. Learning to trust digital technology starts with empowering yourself with knowledge.

Here are five reasons why robots in medicine, and the technology that drives them, shouldn’t scare you.

Robots assist the doctor’s role, they don’t replace it.

Some are under the misconception that robots replace the doctor’s role. Robots assist doctors with a procedure, but robots are still controlled by a human mind. Robots enhance and support a doctor’s skills. They eliminate hand tremors and support maneuvers that even the most skilled surgeons couldn’t pull off with laparoscopic surgery’s long-handled tools.

Digital technologies with robots offer unparalleled precision

In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration gave robots approval to be used in performance surgeries that necessitated more precision. Since this approval was given, robots have been used with much success. They help hone a doctor’s abilities so they can operate with improved vision, precision and control. These factors better the overall patient experience and facilitate faster healing.

Robots reduce repetitive actions and strain

Robots and artificial technologies are able to eliminate human jobs that are highly repetitive. By allowing a robot to perform repetitive, routine tasks you allow human energies to be better allocated. Robotics in health care allows doctors to conserve their abilities and strength to perform tasks that require more high-level skills.

Robots are tasked to perform duties for minimally invasive procedures

Most lay people associate don’t imagine a medical robot in a perfunctory role, but the reality is that most are tasked with minimally invasive duties. Robots assist doctors, but the doctor is still the driving, irreplaceable technology. Operating-room professionals utilize cutting-edge robotics, and best-in-class medical device technology, to deliver you the best possible outcome today can give you.

Medical robots are not the future, they are the present.

What many people may not realize is that medical robots are already hard at work and succeeding in the health care industry. Consider the positive track record of the following robotics/medical-device technologies currently on the market:

  • Robotic Retinal Dissection Device (R2D2) — Surgeons at Oxford University’s John Radcliffe Hospital used this device to remove a membrane 100th of a millimeter thick from the retina of a patient’s eye, successfully curing his blindness and restoring his ability to see normally.
  • The MAKOplasty — MAKOplasty uses their parent company's RIO Robotic Arm Interactive Orthopedic System to perform hip and knee replacement surgeries with great precision. Dr. Trevor Magee at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center says, "It's a surgeon controlled arm. All the robot does is keep us inside a certain field. This haptic field will shut the robot down if we go outside the parameters." This makes MAKO even more customizable, creating these haptic fields to meet each patient's needs.
  • The da Vinci Surgical SystemU.S. News and World Report recently discussed the success of this robotic system for treating various conditions including removing the prostate in patients with prostate cancer. It employs a magnified, 3-D high-definition vision system and small wristed instruments that allow far greater rotation and flexibility than the human hand. With the da Vinci Surgical System, surgeons operate through just a few small incisions. The surgeon has 100 percent control of the robotic system at all times, offering a previously unimagined level of precision for patients. The da Vinci Surgical System is currently the only robotic system for soft-tissue surgery approved by U.S. regulators. With more than 3,600 installed in hospitals worldwide, the da Vinci dominates the market. Salt Lake Regional Medical Center, recognizing its vast benefits, uses da Vinci for prostatectomies, hysterectomies and general surgery.
  • Veebot — Draws blood in less than a minute. Tests illustrate that the Veebot can predict the best vein with approximately 83 percent accuracy — about as good as an experienced human phlebotomist.
  • The ARTAS Robotic System — Assists hair surgeons in performing hair surgery. The technology in this device helps with follicular unit extraction, or FUE — a very repetitive and physically demanding surgical harvesting technique. ARTAS lessens the risk of physician-induced repetitive motion disorders and reduces the ergonomic strains on joints and tendons in the arms and hands.

Robotics, medical-device technologies and artificial intelligence have a place in the health care industry that can advance surgeons, doctors and patients in unfathomable ways. So don’t fear a world with medical robotics; fear a world without them. Salt Lake Regional Medical Center is the first in Utah to become a SRC Robotics Center of Excellence. Call or visit saltlakeregional.com for more information.

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