Panasonic introduces upgraded drug-delivery robot to hospitals

Don’t be afraid if you happen to see a robot handing out your medicine at the hospital, that’s not your nurse replacement but an invention of Panasonic Corp. aimed at helping healthcare workers such as doctors and nurses have more time for their patients. The second generation Hospi drug-delivery robot can now be seen in action at the Panasonic’s in-house health insurance union-operated Matsushita Memorial Hospital in Moriguchi, Osaka.

The improved version of the Hospi now features side lamps to identify itself to patients at night and a capability to carry heavy medicine trays with up to 20 kilograms of medicine. It has a sensor that recognizes people and objects to avoid collision. But the best thing about the new Hospi is that it can ride an elevator all by itself. While others may feel skeptical with having a robot in a healthcare environment where personal touch is needed, employing its use in the hospital has since cut nurses’ medicine delivery by at least one-third, with the nurses not having to get medicines from the pharmacy before handing it out to their patients. Pharmacists only need to encode the destination of the medicine and voila, the Hospi will deliver it on its own.

Having the Hospi robot also reduced the hospital expenses of using pneumatic dispatch tubes for deliveries, which costs around ¥1 million ($9,780). Even with the maintenance cost of the robotic system, it still is around one-fifth of the expenses for other conventional systems used in a hospital, according to a Panasonic official. Basing from the first-generation Hospi system that flopped, Panasonic studied the actual needs of hospitals with robot systems and incorporated it in the new design they made. Five Hospi units can now be seen working the hallways of the Matsushita Memorial Hospital and Panasonic is already talking with other healthcare facilities in 15 Prefectures to adopt the robot into their system.

Source: Japan Daily Press
Published: 07 May 2014

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