Robotics Can Revolutionize The Delivery Of Medical Care

Mon, 01/16/2012 - 5:20am
Stephen C. Schimpff, MD

Robotics has the potential to revolutionize the delivery of healthcare. It can help extend the delivery of information, expertise and clinical care across time and geographical space barriers. Robotics offers the opportunity to enhance quality of care through extension of clinical expertise and leveraging of integrated datasets and best practices. It can be used across the continuum–from the hospital setting (e.g. OR, ER, etc.) into primary care offices and even into the home.  And, robotics offers opportunities for telementoring, training, and education using a combination of robotics and telemedicine. Here are some of the major uses of robotics in clinical medicine today.

Robotic surgery

Only one surgical robot is currently commercially available – daVinci. It has found wide interest and acceptance by many surgeons especially for prostate surgery, cardiac surgery and gynecologic surgery. Most institutions indicate that the combination of initial price, annual maintenance fees, training time, and other costs make for either a very long pay back time or, more often,  never achieving  a return on the investment. Truth is that many hospitals purchased their robot as a marketing ploy and it sits idle in the corner much of the time – not good medicine since it needs to be used extensively for a surgeon to be really competent. Otherwise, better to do the surgery the old fashioned way.

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