The healthcare industry uses four types of robots to improve the current standard of care, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The company’s latest report ‘Robotics in Healthcare - Thematic Research’, states that robots help humans to do things that they may not have been able to do in the past, or do things quicker and with fewer errors.
Listed below are the leading medical robots, as identified by GlobalData.
Major manufacturers are increasing their R&D efforts within robotic surgical systems. The overall market is currently dominated by Intuitive Surgical, but the landscape is rapidly changing. The entrance of major manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson and Medtronicare is bolstering the medtech surgical robotics market.
There are specific product lines from each company focusing on individual therapeutic areas for minimally invasive robotic surgery. Specific companies have remarkably distinct operation methods, as seen with Intuitive Surgical compared to TransEnterix. Intuitive has built-in chips to determine the use of their disposable accessories, and TransEnterix’s attachments are reusable.
The exoskeleton market is one of the fastest growing segments in robotics. Advances in brain-machine connectivity will impact the evolution of exoskeletons. The leading companies in the field are Cyberdyne, ReWalk Robotics, and Ekso Bionics.
Cyberdyne’s Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) exoskeleton, which uses sensors placed on the skin to detect small electrical signals in the patient’s body and respond with movement at the joint, are designed to assist patients rehabilitate from conditions leading to lower limb disorders, including spinal cord injuries and strokes.
The number of robots used to provide care and support to elderly and disabled patients is currently very low, but is expected to increase significantly over the next decade, particularly in countries such as Japan, which is facing a predicted shortfall in the number of available caregivers. Initial use cases for these products are relatively simple, such as helping people get into and out of bed, but they will increasingly be called upon to perform more complex tasks, from reminding patients when to take medication to providing emotional support.
Another expected use case for care robots is to assist nurses with the multitude of tasks that they perform on an hourly basis. Many of these tasks are simple but vital, such as taking blood, recording temperature, or improving patient hygiene. Products like the Robear Japanese, developed by research institute RIKEN and Sumitomo Riko, are already assisting patients and nurses in Japan.
Hospital robots, like Aethon’s TUG autonomous mobile robot, can be used to deliver medications, laboratory specimens, or other sensitive material within a hospital environment. TUG can navigate using a built-in map and an array of on-board sensors.
Among the big medical equipment makers, GE, McKesson, and Siemens are also manufacturing hospital robots. An industry outsider, iRobot, teamed up with InTouch Health, to create a robot that is specifically made for hospitals.
Robots have been designed to disinfect hospital devices and equipment. One company that is showing a lot of promise in this market is Xenex, which has created a robot that disinfects using pulsed Xenon light and can disinfect an entire patient room in less than 20 minutes.