John Myungjune Kim is a graduate of UCLA Anderson School of Management and current Sales Manager at NovaSignal, a small biotech startup in Los Angeles. While at UCLA, John Kim participated in several research studies to learn more about biotechnology and how it can be applies to the healthcare system. In the following article John Kim of UCLA explores the application of robotics in biomedical engineering and discusses what this endeavor means for the future of the industry.
The robotics industry is quickly becoming relevant to many other business sectors. One of its most revolutionary fields is biomedical engineering. Robotics play a big part in the healthcare industry currently, and the future is only expanding of these technologies.
There are 6 main applications for robots in healthcare: telepresence, surgical assistance, rehabilitation, medical transportation, sanitation and disinfection, and prescription dispensing. In the future, robotic engineering will produce more breakthroughs for the healthcare world, and the far-reaching benefits will be extensive.
Applications of Robotics in Healthcare
John Myungjune Kim says that since the 1980s when robotics in healthcare became a relevant resource, the advancements in the industry have allowed robots to fill many roles in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities.
Telepresence robots are ones that allow surgeons, physicians, and other healthcare professionals the opportunity to consult with patients remotely. They are outfitted with navigational capabilities and high-tech cameras in order to allow the consulting doctor to examine the patient and advise on treatments.
Not only do these robots make it much easier to communicate with a specialist, but it makes healthcare more accessible in rural/remote areas. It is a much more sophisticated and effective system than traditional phone calls or video conferences, explains John Myungjune Kim.
John Kim of UCLA says that surgical assistant robots are some of the most helpful and complex systems operating in hospitals. They are highly specialized and are associated with a number of notable advantages. They can help cut down on patient recovery times, surgery duration, surgical risks, infection rates, surgeon fatigue, and overall surgical success.
So far, robotic assistants are being used in knee/hip replacement surgeries, hernia repairs, organ removal/transplant, various heart surgeries, hysterectomies, and more.
Patient recovery and rehabilitation are integral components of the services offered at a hospital or recovery center, and robotics play a role here too. They are useful for people that experience symptoms of MS, traumatic brain events, spinal cord injuries, strokes, and more.
John Myungjune Kim reports that there are two main types of robots used for patient rehab: robotic limbs and exoskeleton systems. They each have their own applications, but they allow patients to regain mobility and coordination, develop strength, and find a better quality of life. The integration of VR into these technologies will result in further advantages including improved balance and mental health during recovery.
With specialized track systems and advanced navigational software, medical transportation robots are highly effective tools for transporting supplies, medications, patient meals, and anything else that needs to get from one place to another.
These robots have two major benefits for healthcare facilities: not only does it free up human workers for tasks that robots can’t yet do, but it enhances efficiency and optimizes communication between hospital staff members.
Sanitation & Disinfection
Robots are incredibly useful for large-scale sanitation and disinfection. In hospitals especially, many staff hours were historically spent disinfecting patient rooms and other high-traffic areas. Now, robots are equipped with either UV light bulbs or hydrogen peroxide vapors that can kill off all bacteria and viruses in just a few minutes without any human intervention.
John Kim of UCLA says that in order to lighten the burden on pharmacy staff, there are robots that function as prescription dispensing systems. They are now compatible with powdered medications, liquids, and more viscous substances. In addition to pharmacist relief, these robots excel in speed and accuracy to minimize wasted resources.
Future Implications of Robotics in Biomedical Engineering
In truth, the future implications of robotics in healthcare are only limited by the innovation of the industry. Future applications may include autonomous lab testing, tissue biopsies, artery plaque removal, targeted medication delivery, and more.
John Kim of UCLA explains that he is often asked what this means for the healthcare system? Not only will robotics continue to revolutionize how patients are treated, but it will cut down the burden placed on surgeons, nurses, and physicians, eliminate human error during procedures, and overwhelmingly improve the capabilities of the healthcare industry.
Although there continue to be barriers to the innovation of robotics for healthcare purposes, the future of the industry is reliant on further advancement. As technology advances, patient care will be improved as will the capabilities and well-being of healthcare professionals.