The family education Currently, the world is fighting against the spread of novel infectious disease COVID-19, and once again, the global health sector is in strife. This fight becomes even more challenging due to supply chain limitations. Shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in healthcare undoubtedly affects the spread and transmission of COVID-19.
Governments of COVID-19 affected countries are trying their best, but are often unable to keep up with the demand of providing enough PPE to health authorities. In a report by the American Medical Association, Medical staff in the U.S. is struggling to get hold of PPEs to avoid virus contraction, and some physicians and medical students are taking matters into their own hands. According to a survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), 49% of nurses treating COVID-19 patients not on ventilators said they weren’t trained on what standard PPE to use and when to use it.
Apart from the shortage of resources like PPE, test kits and ICU bed space, there is also a sudden peak in demand for caregivers, doctors, and front line health workers. Under these difficult times, it was good to see the U.A.E. government recognizing these healthcare workers by giving them the “Golden Visa,” which was only available to wealthy investors until now.
Embracing New Technology
This is the moment when new technological innovations and their timely adoption are highly beneficial for both doctors and patients. Recently, several U.A.E. based hospitals started telehealth consultations. This has been useful to relieve the anxiety of various patients unwilling to visit a clinic for fear of exposure.
Healthcare will now focus more on basic computerized solutions such as robots monitoring and performing standard medical work for infectious patients, reducing the need for medical personnel. When resources are short, and healthcare systems are overburdened, every minute counts.
Globally, people are concerned whether healthcare systems can effectively manage COVID-19. Moreover, there are high chances of virus transmission from patients to doctor due to direct contact and lack of PPE facilities. These issues can be addressed with technological innovations.
Recently, Telemedical technology was tested by the Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington. A Robot named “Vici” helped doctors interact with patients. The robot had a simple and resistant metal trolley with keyboard, chest radiography, and front camera. It permitted the doctor to connect with the patient in isolation.
Vici was mainly used to communicate with the patient and to observe the patient’s lungs and heart. The robot made it simpler to check the heart and lungs’ condition and talk to the patient daily without unnecessarily exposing doctors. Similar robots have been used in other countries for patient care and monitoring, such as Tommy, the robot nurse in Italy. Robots are also being used to deliver food and medicine to patients, test patients by taking nasal swabs, and helping to intubate patients.
Robot Assisted Surgery
Technological innovation is not just limited to interacting with patients. Surgical Robots have already been used for assisting surgeons in surgery for over 20 years. Robotic Assisted Surgery (RAS) minimizes the chances of human errors and provides higher precision. Using the help of semi-autonomous robots in surgical operations also reduce the chances of infections, shorten hospital stays, and recovery time. RAS also requires less staff in operation theaters, hence overall freeing up more resources to cater to COVID-19 patients. Robots can help unburden the healthcare system.
Another advantage of using a surgical robot is that the instruments can rotate several times—much more than a human wrist. Without the support of Robotic arms, the surgery can be physically demanding and lead to neck, shoulder, or back problems in doctors as well as muscle fatigue, which may cause twitching or tremors during surgery.
Changing policies to fight the pandemic
Transition in the health care sector and adoption of newer technologies can be slow due to regulatory bodies. But at this time of crisis, even the governments and corporates are coming together to solve the challenges.
Recently in the U.S., the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would not impose civil penalties for HIPAA violations “against covered healthcare providers in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.”
Similarly, in U.A.E., the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has made “efforts to support hospitals and clinics in providing remote healthcare services,” allowing six new telemedicine applications from telehealth on an exceptional basis on all networks until further notice.
Considering the scenario today, robotics and technology can be used as the primary weapon against the growing pandemic. After all, if technology cannot be of use today, when will it be?