Jan 15, 2019 in Health

The Innovation of Medical Technology on Robotics Essay

Abstract

Robotics for health care is a growing field projected to thrive in the face of increasing aging, shortages of health care personnel, and the need for improved patient care and quality of life. The advancement of innovation of medical technology on robotics has played a big role in enabling the delivery of a cheaper, faster, and more efficient patient care, faster recovery times and fewer hospital stays. The growth of medical technology on robotics spans across a broad array of user populations, medical fields, and interaction modalities. Medical innovation carries a high potential for fostering growth of new treatments, improving quality and accessibility of medical care and fostering patient health outcomes. The paper demonstrates that the field of robotics for health care is diverse and can range from intelligent prosthetics and patient monitoring robots to robotized surgery. The paper explores benefits of medical robotics in revolutionizing the practice of diagnostic, therapeutic, and intervention practices with a special focus on robotic surgery. However, implications of the emergent robotic revolution are far from being concise or unilateral.

Keywords: Robotics, Telepresence, Robot-assisted Surgery

The Innovation of Medical Technology on Robotics

Introduction

The contemporary US medical care is highly technologically advanced; undeniably, the everyday practice of Western medicine brings to the fore a myriad of technologies and technological devices. In recent decades, surgery has been transformed by unprecedented revolution, including the emergence of robotic-assisted surgery facilitated by advancements in instrumentation. Robotic-assisted surgery allows effective blend of surgery with minimal invasive approaches. Emerging technologies have transformed certain relations in the context of surgical intervention. Medical robotic systems have heralded significant improvisations within overriding medical procedures, including development of less-invasive medical procedures, which generate reduced side-effects and improved recovery times (Giuliani, Scopelliti, & Fornara, 2005). 

Innovation areas relating to medical robotics feature robotics for medical interventions (robotized precision surgery, remote surgery, robot-assisted microsurgery, and robotized surgery assistance) and robotics for rehabilitation treatment. Other innovation areas relating to medical robotics include robotics-assisted preventive diagnosis and therapies (smart medical capsules), robotic assistive technology (intelligent prosthetics), and robots reinforcing professional care (patient monitoring robots). In order to explore the topic of medical robotics, the paper examines the literature on medical robots based on material from relevant books and scientific articles. The literature review provides insights into the factors, as well as impediments to entrenchment of robotics within health care.

Background

The notion of creating humanlike apparatus or automation that mimics and carries out human movement or manipulates other projects has existed since the ancient times. In recent times, speedy development and broad utilization of computer technology have given rise to integration of human intellectual activities in robots. In the last five decades, robots have played a central role in facilitating quick, accurate, and proficient working machines. In the contemporary world, new generations of robots are smart and have the capability of data processing and knowledge processing (Khan, 1998). Early medical robotic research and development gained inspiration from articulated industry robots, which allowed development of robots customized to match needs of medical procedures. 

The current crop of robots features high capital and operating costs, intricate mechanisms, and large-size scales that mimic industrial robots. In the last two decades, robotic technology has been established within the medical field in an attempt to enhance certain surgical procedures. The PUMA 560 qualifies as the pioneering application of robotics in the area of the surgical field: the robot guides a needle by utilizing CT guidance during a brain biopsy. The PUMA 560 performs stereotactic maneuvers based on computed tomography, which has demonstrated crucial advantages in precision. The ROBODOC (1992), in turn, has been utilized by orthopedics to help with total hip replacement. The original goal of the technology was to avail operative care on the battlefield with surgical robots located in armored vehicles while surgeons controlled robotic arms from protected and distant locations. Telepresence technology remains the most pervasive within the sphere of urology and gynecology with limited, but growing applications within general surgery.

Presently, robots play a significant role in neurosurgery, laparoscopy, orthopedic surgery, and emergency response. Since the mid-1990s, new steps have been undertaken in an attempt to integrate opportunities of computer motion, fostering development of minimal invasive surgery systems (Khan, 1998). In addition to robots undertaking surgery, robots are also developed to undertake supporting activities in the operating room such as dynamic arm supports. The FDA-approved Da Vinci Surgical system (DVSS) flawlessly decodes hand movements of the surgeon and transfers those movements to the instrument controls. The intuitive control varies, including motion, 3-D visualization, and fine tissue manipulation potential, while at the same time enabling the surgeon to work through minute holes of the MIS. 

Literature Review

Theme A: Political and Legal Influences on Current Developments within Medical Technology on Robotics

  a) Government Policy and Government Interventions

The bulk of government policies favor the advancement of medical technology in robotics by creating a favorable environment where innovation flourishes. Nevertheless, the path towards medical robotics is not always smooth. Government policies sometimes impede or stifle innovation in the area of medical robotics by instituting cumbersome and stringent standards to be met before approval of the innovation. For instance, approval of the Da Vinci robot took more than a decade. Largely, the government recognizes that a failure to embrace robotic medical technologies can threaten the overall quality of health care (Sander, 2000). The US Roadmap for Robotics highlights that a number of societal drivers for enhanced health care access, quality, affordability, and personalization can be solved by robotics technology (Fischer, 2000). 

Medical robotics also has a significant potential of revolutionizing clinical practice by enhancing safety and overall quality of medical surgery. Government policies seek to foster the utilization of information in therapy and diagnosis, and enhance education and training of medical personnel to align with the changing trends in health care. Government policies also influence aspects such as: (a) risks and cost of product innovation; (b) risks and cost of the FDA review (approval); and (c) market risks and rewards (adoption) (Rose, 2007). 

b) The Role of Politics in Guiding Innovation on Medical Technology on Robotics 

Politics occupies a central place in most societies; politics can either favor or disfavor the advancement of medical innovations. As such, politics can either stifle or foster the development of medical robotic based on the operating environment created in the medical innovation industry (Khan, 1998; Rose, 2007). There is a revolutionary shift in the manner how health services are perceived by the politicians. Increasingly, politicians have come to appreciate the challenges facing health systems including population aging, an increasing burden of chronic diseases, and rapidly increasing costs of health care (Giuliani et al., 2005; Rose, 2007). 

The political class recognizes that surmounting the outlined challenges demands institution of new approaches and innovations within healthcare delivery. As such, medical technology advancement is a welcome event since it heralds an efficient and effective approach towards improving the cost-effectiveness of patient care. Indeed, robotics can deliver added value to problems and needs within health care. Integration of robotics within health care heralds multiple advantages, including a reduction in labor costs, enhancement of quality, efficiency, safety, and patient orientation within health care. Medical technology on robotics also enhances opportunities for personalized care, enhancement of acceptance of diagnostic therapies and procedures, improvement in independent living and increased involvement within the society.

Theme B: The Place of Technology within Culture

a. The Cultural Effects on Medical Robotics 

In most cases, cultural changes manifest at a fast rate consequent to the adoption of medical technologies on robotics, which is largely driven by the fact that medical technology on robotics is highly efficient and effective. The adoption of robotic technology is subject to the interplay of various factors, including technological stereotypes, cultural backgrounds, and sociability of the technology (Fischer, 2000). People’s expectations of robots and response to robotic designs differ internationally. The cultural response to robots has huge implications since it is indicative of people’s willingness to adopt robotic systems. Historically, the industry of robotics has translated to automation or an industry that asks machines to be more effective in comparison with humans. Today, innovation is a relatively different design space interested in how robots and people can perform better together. The human-machine partnerships recognize and are built upon human capability (Fischer, 2000). 

Medical robotics qualifies as radical innovations since they integrate new technologies, alter market structures, demand intensive user learning, and induce major behavior changes (Khan, 1998). Medical robotics has revolutionized the cultural context within health care delivery. Assistance for surgeons by robotic systems within the operating room has undergone development for several decades. Assistance by robotic systems allows enhanced accuracy, scale motion, enhanced stability (tremor reduction), enhanced patient recovery, 3D vision, sterilization, and resistance to infection and radiation. Robotic surgery represents technological developments that utilize robotic systems to help in surgical procedures. Robotics for health care and medicine represents the domain of systems capable of undertaking coordinated mechatronics actions after processing information obtained via sensor technology. 

Robotically assisted surgery has been established to surpass limitations of minimally-invasive surgery and improve capabilities of surgeons carrying out open surgery. The surgeon utilizes various means to control instruments, including direct computer control, which enables the surgeon to undertake surgical movements as robotic arms undertake actual movements. Robotic surgery is analogous to tradition laparoscopic surgery whereby surgical instruments are inserted into small incisions within a patient’s body and manipulated by the surgeon. However, in robotic surgery the surgeon sits at a console within the operating room and utilizes controls to direct surgical tools connected to robot’s arms. Both forms of surgery may yield quicker recovery, reduced blood loss and pain, relative to conventional “open” surgeries carried out through a larger incision. Robotic devices are also used for minimal invasive surgery since it leads to fewer traumas for patients, which in turn improves patient’s recovery time. Minimal invasive surgery allows instruments to penetrate the patient’s body, which demands the development of specialized instruments and tools. 

b. Attitudes towards Medical Robotics

The field of medical robotics qualifies as an emerging area typified by both successes and failures (Khan, 1998). Indeed, the public manifests mixed reactions with regard to the significance of technology on robotics (Giuliani, Scopelliti, &Fornara, 2005). Overall, the society has embraced the value of technology on medical robotics based on the recognition that the failure to incorporate robotic technologies can undermine human existence and security (Khan, 1998). The factors influencing the growth of robotics and application within the health care system include demographic, social, technological, economic, political, and environmental factors. Indeed, application of robotics is not merely an issue of technology, but it also profoundly hinges on societal acceptance, as well as regulation, reliability, and safety issues (Rose, 2007). Core facilitators to the adoption of robotic-based medical innovations include perceived usefulness of innovations. Societal drivers for enhanced health care that can be driven by robotic technology include widening access to health care and enhancing prevention and patient outcomes (Sander, 2000). Present medical procedures can be enhanced by making them less invasive and reducing side effects, which leads to improved recovery times and increased worker productivity. 

Robots avail a more user-friendly, ergonomic, and intuitive interface for instruments, which improves precision. Available literature demonstrates that robotic systems can increase the value of health care by minimizing labor costs, which can be attained by replacing certain human activities by robots. Robotic systems can also add value by enhancing independence and self-support of vulnerable people in daily life. Ultimately, the use of robotic systems within health care serves to enhance the quality of care since robots act more precisely and can replicate actions (Giuliani et al., 2005). Robots can undertake activities that humans are unable to perform owing to limitations of precision or size such as microcapsules that deliver internal body tissue samples.

The acceptance of Innovation on Medical Robotics has also been fostered by the benefits, in terms of safety, brought by medical robotics. A case in point is robot-assisted surgery, which eliminates the necessity for big morbid incisions, which translates to diminished blood loss. In addition, robot-assisted surgery lessens the necessity for pain medication and decreases the duration of hospital stay. Gains heralded by robotic-assisted surgery, when compared to open surgery and laparoscopy encompass augmented dexterity, more precise movements, and reduced tremor coupled with enhanced visualization of the operating field (through 3D and magnification) (Khan, 1998). The robotic digital process allows scaling down of the surgeons’ hand movements to an extent at which microscopic procedures or microvascular procedures become feasible. 

The non-acceptance of Innovation on Medical Robotic stems from a lack of trust in the technology; furthermore, robotic systems demand a significant learning curve (Khan, 1998). Legislation can also be a significant barrier in embracing medical devices. Moreover, robotic systems are costly and are not grounded on mass production principles, which increase costs. It appears that, apart from intricate surgical procedures such as cardiac surgery, expenses of robotics can be highly competitive relative to open surgical procedures. The other impediment to the wide application of robotic technology in the medical industry stems from the fact that the robotic technology is perceived as foreign. Furthermore, an intuitive surgical robot robs the surgeon of tactile feedback, which is inconsistent with the mantra of surgery where proximity to the patient is central.

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Discussion

The value of Medical Robotics on the Elderly people and the Disabled People in the Society

In the last few decades, the ICT has grown to become an enabling technology providing a myriad of solutions within the healthcare sector, including robotized surgery, intelligent prosthetics, health information networks, and electronic patient records. The domain of health care is diverse and encompasses a myriad of activities, including diagnostics, prevention, and cure. Medical technology on robotics occupies a central place care reinforcing recovery, and independence of the elderly and physically impaired people in the society. 

Intelligent Prosthetics

Individuals without one or more limbs can gain from prosthetics via restoration of mobility and enhanced independence (Giuliani et al., 2005). Prosthesis represents an artificial extension that restores functionality of a body part (characteristically lost in injury or congenital defect) by blending mechanical devices with the human skeleton, human muscle, and nervous systems. Prosthetics and exoskeletons avail significant enhancements within the life of individuals who may have lost a limb or manifest movement disability. The bulk of contemporary prosthetics now feature sensors, microprocessors, and actuators to enhance the functionality. Prosthetics mimics human functionality via artificial muscles, skeleton parts, or joints. The optimal control over artificial limb movement avails the user with a degree of benefit through replacement of functionality of a natural limb as close as possible.

 Conventional prostheses qualify as passive artificial limbs devoid of any onboard intelligence, which limits improvement of mobility owing to the intricacy of human limb movements and control. The present commercial prosthetic devices are highly limited in capability since they are commanded to move purely mechanically or through electromyography. Robotic prosthetic devices seek to mimic a missing limb via replication of numerous limb segments and joints and flawless neural integration that avails intuitive control of the limb and touch feedback. Robots avail significant opportunities that enhance limb functionality through improved control and comfort. Robots are highly robust and reliable, as well as rendering individual adaptation and fitting possible (Khan, 1998). Presently, there is a diverse range of intelligent prosthetics on the market availing dynamic, interactive action based on the users’ behavior. 

Robotized Motor Coordination Therapy and Analysis

Robotic systems avail controlled support of the movement by aiding people with physical impairments to make movements. Sensory motor therapy where the patient is aided to make upper or lower extremity movements, whether physically assisted by a robot or human therapist, aids people to re-learn how to move. Largely, robot-aided recovery and rehabilitations deliver significant dividends in terms of patient outcomes and restoration of productive life (Giuliani et al., 2005). Utilization of robots in motor coordination therapy facilitates steady, extensive, and personalized therapy without boredom, which may be difficult to attain in human-only therapy. Furthermore, given that robots rely on sensors, the robot can acquire data crucial to the objective appraisal of the patient’s recovery.

Today, there is a broad array of clinical outcomes that can be expected from exploitation of robots to regain functionality of upper and lower extremities. Robotized motor coordination restores limb movement capabilities for individuals suffering from neurological injuries, including cerebral stroke or spinal cord injury. Rehabilitation robots provide a broad range of choices for mechanical input, which encompass resisting, perturbing, assisting and stretching. Exploitation of robots within the sensory-motor therapy helps neuroscientists to augment the overall appreciation of brain function in light of robot-based perturbations. Optimization of automated rehabilitation therapies paves way for understanding of external mechanical forces and neural plasticity. Robots also avail personalized motivation and coaching. Socially assistive robotics centers on the utilization of sensory data from wearable sensors or cameras that provide means of understanding user’s activity, which in turn enables the machine to encourage and motivate persistent recovery exercises. Overall, utilization of robotic systems can act as a force multiplier in health care delivery by providing a platform for delivering personalized care for all (Giuliani et al., 2005).

Conclusion and Recommendations

Overall, adoption of medical robotics will reduce costs to the society due to improved quality of patient care and reduced medical errors. The contemporary society derives success from the development of advanced machines capable of carrying out tasks that would otherwise demand lots of time and skill to complete. Robots play a central role in making people’s lives better and easier. Given the need for accuracy, robotic technology is becoming an increasingly popular tool to assist surgeons. Surgical robots enhance precision of procedures, hence minimizing complication rates within surgeries. In addition to the enhanced precision, robotic procedures avail major cost savings in terms of pre- and post-operation care expenses and hospital stay lengths. Robots will witness more utilization for medical training purposes, buttressed by enhanced tissue-modeling capacities by the growing objectivity within healthcare assessment. As such, development of suitably scaled medical robots is essential to enhance care and efficiency, while at the same time moderating costs. Nevertheless, drawing inspiration from industrial robotics has sometimes led to the adoption of cumbersome designs typified by high capital and increased expenses per procedure. As such, efforts should be directed towards improving physical designs for medical robots so as to render their semiautonomous behavior more useful, while reducing the number of instruments utilized. 

Medical robotics carries a significant potential in revolutionizing clinical practice by fostering medical processes and accurately guiding diagnostic equipment, instruments, and tools for therapy and diagnosis. The present cost involved in the purchase of machines and maintenance is prohibitive for a medical environment overburdened by cost overruns and high inflation. It is crucial to continue developing and deploying robot systems for enhancement of medical procedures and minimization of the overall cost of care. Some of the policy options for fostering medical innovation include allowing more creativity concerning funding of science, offering awards or prizes for inventions, establishing a public-interest investment fund and expediting the FDA approvals and reviews. The medical robotic systems have been accessible for a very short period; future research may be needed to examine the cost-effectiveness of new technology, especially with account for redundancy or unwarranted costs associated with the medical robotics.

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