How will the innovation of medical robots benefit the health industry in the next 20 years

Today’s tech developments further prove that the innovation of medical robots will improve productivity and accuracy within the medical industry.

Currently, in the US, medical robots are helping medical professionals provide smarter and more comprehensive means of care to their patients. The pandemic revealed the inefficiencies of the health industry and the reliance on humans for every task. With the development of technology, robots can help transform the role of caretakers and patients. Since the 1980s, automated robots have been assisting medical professionals with their work via robotic arm technologies to aid with surgical assistance. Over the decades, the emergence of Artificial intelligence (AI) has transformed the capabilities of these medical technologies in other fields of healthcare.

The focus of medical robots can be broadly categorized into 2 functions: patient care and administration.

Patient Care

This category comprises diagnosis, surgery and post-surgery activities. With telemedicine becoming increasingly common, AI is playing a huge role in diagnosis. AI algorithms and machine learning techniques are aiding towards early detection of diseases and more accurate diagnosis. These techniques can also be used for a customized treatment plan by gathering more data about the patients.

The constant innovation in the healthcare industry can also lead to a future where post-surgery recovery times are greatly reduced with the use of “microbots”. For many years, scientists have been creating "microbots." These are microscopic machines that can easily and quickly make repairs while moving throughout the human body. Since these robots would be as small as a single cell, they will perform surgeries without opening the human body, leading to less tissue damage.

A patient’s mental well-being plays a huge role in post-surgery recovery. Medical robots can be used to provide emotional support to patients and monitor the signs of medical distress. One such example of that is Stevie, a robotic companion for the elderly. Another example of post-surgery physical recovery is the usage of robotic exoskeletons, which train body parts to function in the desired manner.


The administrative tasks consist of the repetitive basic tasks of hospital sanitation, urine or blood collection, patient forms and data collection and medicine distribution. Unsanitary practices in a hospital can be life-threatening for patients, especially post-surgery. The Covid-19 pandemic also showed us the importance of disinfecting and sanitizing areas regularly. The usage of UV disinfection robots for these tasks can reduce the workload on hospital staff and increase their safety against viruses.

Another administrative focus area is the repetitive task of patient data and sample collection. Shifting the reliance from nurses to robots in this area will lead to more focused and empathetic care for the patients. The volume of these tasks causes physical and mental stress on nurse staff, leading to higher turnover and inefficiencies. A venipuncture robot, for instance, may create a 3D image of a patient's arm to show a nurse exactly where the patient's vein is, making it considerably simpler and quicker to take blood. This enhances the patient experience as well, as many people find needles to be unpleasant and even terrifying.

Lastly, medical robots will be able to help in distributing medicines in hospitals as well. The time it takes to identify, match, and dispense medicine to patients in hospitals can be reduced by robots with AI-enabled medicine identifier software.

Success Stories

Robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) was made possible by developments in surgical technology, and its widespread use has helped surgeons and care teams operate more quickly and effectively while improving patient outcomes. Organizations like Intuitive have made it into a reality by focusing on the needs of surgeons and hospitals in creating successful RAS programs. Intuitive’s robotic surgical systems enable surgeons to use a console, precisely guiding surgical instruments inside the patient’s body. With the surgeon’s hand movements translated in real-time to the instruments, Intuitive is enabling surgical precision in moments that matter.

ReWalk’s robotic technologies are transforming the lives of individuals with lower limb disabilities caused by strokes. The ReStore™ Exo-Suit for Stroke Rehabilitation is a versatile and efficient gait training solution that provides both dorsiflexion and plantarflexion assistance to facilitate functional gait training.  The ReWalk™ Personal 6.0 Exoskeleton for Spinal Cord Injury is the first exoskeleton in the United States to earn FDA clearance. It enables the device user to sit, stand, walk, and turn and has the ability to climb and descend stairs.

Embodied’s Moxie is a robot equipped with machine learning technology with the goal of fostering children's social, emotional, and cognitive growth through engaging material and routine play-based learning. Moxie is a step forward in increasing mental health awareness and training children to acknowledge their emotions and become balanced individuals. Embodied has recently announced a partnership with the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and Golisano Children’s Hospital (GCH) to develop clinical applications for Moxie in pediatric care.

Belief in a Better Tomorrow

The pharmaceutical robotics market is expected to grow as a result of an increase in medical research activities and a rise in the demand for automation in healthcare facilities. The market could go from USD 119.46 Mn in 2021 to USD 233.69 Mn in 2029 with a CAGR of 8.75%. The number of worldwide robotic procedures more than doubled between 2012 to 2020. A study published two years ago in JAMA Network Open analyzed records from 73 hospitals in Michigan, which showed that in 2012, 8.7% of surgeons conducted general surgery using robotics; by 2018, that figure had increased to over 35%.4

Influential people across the globe believe in the power of robotics and its transforming nature. Bill Gates in his video talks about the Harvard Robotics Lab that shows the robots for tomorrow. He describes a black glove with pneumatic tubes which gently assisted him with his grip as he tried to pick up a coffee mug. He believes that this technology could be a life changer for people disabled because of a stroke or disease, allowing them to perform basic tasks like eating, drinking, and even writing.

Key Takeaways

The robotics industry has long been held as the next frontier of innovations, so it goes to show that healthcare is looking to leverage some of these new concepts and technologies for the benefit of doctors, patients, and everyone in between.

  • Broad categorizations of robotics in the healthcare space have been distinguished as either falling under patient care, which includes surgery and diagnostic robots, to administration, which includes sanitation, patient data management, and more.
  • Patient care robotics has been around for decades, but the recent evolution of technologies has pointed to a growth in the “microbots” space. These robots utilize microscopic technology to perform actions and treatments that prove complex by normal means.
  • Administration robotics have also seen a spike in interest since the pandemic, with new technologies assisting staff and nurses in providing care, as well as managing the flow in and out of hospitals and clinics.
  • There have been several success stories in the field of healthcare robotics, such as the Intuitive’s continued use of the Da Vinci machines and new robotics from ReWalk and Embodied.
  • It’s anticipated that the robotics healthcare sector is only grow from here on, reaching upwards of USD 233.9 million in 2029.

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Published on 

Dec 13, 2022



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