Robots in Hospitals

Watch this on Vimeo!

Abstract

Hospitals are crucial aspects of society, run by incredible people that dedicate their life to caring for others. However, there are several tasks that are vital to a hospitals operation that do not require an empathic competence. One such tasks is the continuous resupply of consumable items needed to maintain necessary hygiene levels.

The Pluto concept act as a helping hand to the assistant nurses, relieving them and enabling them to spend more time with the patients and emphasizes their empathic, inherently human capabilities. The chief motivation is that nurses value the interaction with the patients the most in their work, which is also their primary task. However, they are charged with so many menial tasks that they have little time to care for their patients.

Inspiration and Method

The project is based on a qualitative user-centric field study that was conducted at the Karolinska University Hospital and Umeå University Hospital. Both hospitals were involved throughout the process. The intent was to identify situations that showed potential for innovation and application of automation, but also what would be suitable to automate within that particular environment. The research was based on an expert-led approach where the experience of the innovation departments was drawn upon to decide which wards would be visited. The visits were performed in a shadowing format that made it possible to draw insights from the daily work of the hospital staff, especially assistant nurses.

Based on the analysis of the field studies, this project concerns the design of a robotic solution that will relieve assistant nurses of some of the most demanding tasks that they carry out today. The chief motivation is that the nurses value the interaction with the patient’s the most in their work, which is also their primary task. However, they are charged with so many menial tasks that they have little time to care for their patients.

Result

The Pluto concept is a fully autonomous collaborative robot that act as a helping buddy to the assistant nurses. It relieves the nurses of the essential task of ensuring that hygienic material is always available. This saves valuable time that the nurses can spend with their patients instead. It also ensures that hygienic supplies are always available for all medical procedures, eliminating interruption in the care due to a lack of basic supplies.

This shifts the assistant nursing role to focus more on care rather than general upkeep of the hospital ward, empathizing the great empathic qualities that people have. The robot is not intended for active interaction with patients since it’s emotional capabilities would always be lacklustre compared to a human, since it would inherently be artificial.

This division of labour creates a collaboration where both parties’ abilities is best utilized and, together, Pluto’s skills and the nurses’ skills multiply and amplify each other, forming a relationship that provides improved care for their patients.