Automation and the Healthcare industry

The global Automation industry is continuously growing and expanding into more and more markets. Commonly associated with the Automotive and Material Handling markets, robotics is now much in abundance in the Healthcare industry, with research and development progressing quickly.

Robotics currently used in the Healthcare industry are partially autonomous, with surgical robots assisting Surgeons with some operations. Surgeons control these robots through a console, enabling them to conduct an investigation with the camera and lights on the arm or carry out surgery with the robot’s medical instruments. Surgical robots have increased precision, allowing Surgeons to create smaller incisions and patients to have less invasive surgery, resulting in a faster recovery time.

The function of Automation in the Healthcare industry is to support medical professionals and improve patient care. While surgical robots are currently a big investment for hospitals, it appears that in the future, the Healthcare industry’s robots could be completely autonomous, for both surgery and patient care.

The history of Automation in the Healthcare industry

Automation was first introduced into the Healthcare industry in 1985. The Arthrobot was used in an orthopaedic surgical procedure in Vancouver. Within the first 12 months, over 60 orthoscopic surgical procedures were performed. In the following years, multiple robots were introduced to various surgeries:

  • In 1985, the Ultimation Puma 200 assisted in a brain biopsy where it placed a needle using CT guidance;
  • The PROBOT was used in plastic surgeries;
  • The ROBODOC was used to help with hip replacement surgeries.

In 2001, the first da Vinci robot operated in the UK. The surgical system consists of a patient-side cart and a control console. There are now more than 4,500 worldwide and in use by more than 70 hospitals in the UK. It has up to four interactive arms that can be controlled by a Surgeon at the console. It also has multiple redundant safety features to minimise hand tremors and reduce human error.

What’s new to the market?

Versius is a new surgical robotic system created by British company CMR Surgical. It was unveiled in September, with the first operation on a patient set to take place in 2019.

The Versius was designed and built in Cambridge, UK. It has been designed to be portable and transportable, allowing the robot to be moved between operating theatres and hospitals. A key feature of the robot is that it has flexible joints like a human, making it easier to use and manoeuvre. The Surgeon will operate the robot from a console with a 3D HD screen.

The Versius robot is believed to be the next generation of affordable, minimal-access surgery technology.

Martin Frost, Chief Executive Officer at CMR Surgical, said:

We believe Versius represents a paradigm shift in surgery. The ground-breaking design, coupled with genuine affordability, means that patients everywhere have the potential to benefit from the advantages of minimal-access surgery. Versius is a great example of British innovation and its launch represents a pivotal moment in the next chapter of surgery and patient care.

Clearly, Automation has a key role to play in improving accuracy and efficiency in surgeries. It will be interesting to see how the evolution of robotics will change the dynamics of the Healthcare industry in the next few years.






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