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You may be treated by a ‘robot’ in UAE hospital

Forget robots that can mop your house in Dubai or do the dishes in Abu Dhabi. Stage is now being prepared to get robots into UAE hospitals, to take up several jobs that humans are currently doing in treating the unwell.

A robotics firm is now looking to integrate the use of robots in UAE hospitals and if plans fructify, we may perhaps see a robo nurse if not a proper robo doc on our future visit to the hospitals.

“We are now in contact with several hospitals as well as local partners that can work with us in bringing robots into healthcare facilities in the UAE,” Dr Claus Risager, Partner & Director at Blue Ocean Robotics, told ‘Emirates 24|7’.

Last month, iRobot Corp., another firm that provides robotic technology-based solutions, announced the UAE availability of its range of floor-cleaning robots.

The company maintains that UAE residents’ accelerated pace of urban life and the gradual expansion of people’s living space makes it ideal for robotic help. In a media statement, it said more and more UAE households are willing to purchase advanced intelligent products so that the consumers can “decide how to spend their time doing activities they want to do because they can spend less time doing dull and time-consuming housework.”

But now it seems that the use of robots won’t be limited to our homes, but also healthcare facilities. But what exactly can we expect these man-made machines do at the hospitals? According to Dr Risager, “robots can do the dirty, dull and distant jobs which humans are not so motivated to do. They can also take over dangerous ones where people might get sick”.

Although their use is rather limited for now, there is a great interest in several of the robot systems including telemedicine robots, logistics robots, disinfection robots, robots for training children with autism social skills, etc.

“Further, they can contribute with increased quality in various applications due to a high degree of reliability and endurance. During surgery, they can help in delivery of medicine, in remotely connecting physicians to a critical situation, e.g. in an intensive care unit etc.,” he explained.

This is what we can expect realistically, unlike the scenes from a science fiction movie where robots are in command of everything from A to Z.

The robots are not really going to replace qualified personnel in hospitals, insists Risager. “Robots are playing the role of a tool that improves and extends the capabilities of the personnel,” he says.

And the new technology beats the common perception that robots are set to take up the jobs of the common man. This, Dr. Risager, believes, may be true only in certain categories but the introduction of robotics in hospitals can lead to more jobs being created.

“Several independent surveys show that robots are job creators. When robots are introduced it transforms more jobs from the hand to the mind and it increases productivity, quality and profitability. This transformation leads to increased pace on innovation, creativity and development and results in high-value jobs that lead to increased wealth,” he says.

“The only critical factor is that the transformation is unevenly distributed among the workforce. Introducing robots increases the number of jobs for personnel with high-level skills and reduces the number for low-level skills but overall the number of jobs increases,” he adds.

To prove his case for introduction of robots in healthcare in the UAE, Dr Risager highlights some successful example.

“There are many examples,” he says. “Surgery with Da Vinci robot; logistics transportation of food, clean linen, medicine, blood samples, trash and more; rehabilitation robots for therapies to train and regain lost walking capabilities after stroke accidents; disinfection robot based on high-energy UV light pulses; socially interacting robots for stimulating cognitive function with dementia in the elderly so they get more relaxed and less nervous,” are some that he lists.

Source: Emirates 24/7
Published: 18 May 2014

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