Industry insights in healthcare / DIH-HERO-ROB-ID
Collaborative robotics and healthcare
Telemedicine and blockchain applications in healthcare record-keeping are already reshaping the way medical professionals, pharmacists and patients interact, plan treatment options and create healthcare solutions every day. The newest technological transformations optimise medical practitioner workload, streamline operations and improve patient value by minimising the potential for human errors and reducing costs. Medical innovations are particularly important today in light of the ageing population and the growth rate of active ageing making efficient healthcare solutions essential to accommodating the needs of increasingly larger population portions.
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Moreover, with the overwhelming strain the Covid-19 crisis brought onto the healthcare industry, technological innovations could be the answer to newly emerging problems and safety concerns. DIH-HERO is tackling those issues hands-on by sponsoring innovative solutions to aid physician’s work.
Success story 1 – Vaccination device
With the help of funding from DIH-HERO, Voxdale has created a robotic intradermal vaccine delivery system – ROB-ID. Responding to the current vaccination challenges, ROB-ID aims to streamline vaccine coverage and lighten physicians workload and ensure the necessary safety distances between healthcare workers and patients by introducing automated vaccination robots. The robot provides a speedy vaccination procedure in administering shots in less than one minute while meeting safety requirements and optimising vaccine usage, this way eliminating waste and fighting shortages. The robot works by prompting the vaccine to put their arm into the device at which point the system is activated. Then, the detector reaches out to the vaccine carrier, picking up the appropriate dose for the patient from the tray together with the intradermal device. The carrier moves towards the patient’s arm, administering a low vaccine dose fully leveraging the accuracy of robotic motions. The procedure takes approximately 8 seconds and is essentially pain-free. At this point, the patient can stand up and leave fully vaccinated.
The needle is then disposed of in a medical waste bin to ensure full safety. The dosing container holds 12 individual vaccine doses sealed individually to ensure a sterile environment. The DIH-HERO support has allowed Voxdale to develop individual device components such as the armrest, gripper, disinfector and movement mechanism as well as the electronics and user interface behind the technology. The product passes its primary technical verification in approximately two months, moving it forward to the next phases of the trial. The future vision looks to implement hubs of 3-6 kiosks with integrated vaccine carriers overlooked by one operator. One hub could vaccinate up to 4000 people in a single day. Currently, Voxdale is looking for partners and clinical trial centres to bring ROD-IS to the next stage and into the market.
Success story 2 – Autonomous delivery robot
Another emerging healthcare solution funded by DIH-HERO is the autonomous vehicles designed to carry materials in hospitals this way protecting employees and patients from the spread of contagious infections such as Covid-19. The problem tackles the problems of staff overload and infection by applying the company’s existing robotic solutions in a new environment. PAL-robotics autonomous mobile robots were enhanced with laser-based SLAM, laser and depth cameras for obstacle avoidance as well as Triton cameras for place and path recognition and reintroduced in hospitals for precise deliveries. The device can be applied for food transfer to quarantined patients, reducing the infection rates by minimising person to person contact.
The second use case supports the transfer of medicine, medical supplies and patient samples, freeing the medical professionals time so they can fully focus on patient treatment and care. Thanks to the innovative sensors, the robot can function under regular hospital infrastructure and can be rolled out immediately. The device carries a safe, password-protected container, designed to safeguard the contents during the delivery journey.
The Accerion sensor helps the robot navigate efficiently through challenging dynamic conditions and adapt to changing environmental settings autonomously. The robot can adapt to the continuous presence of people and other obstacles present in hospitals during busy periods. The project has led the PAL-robotics team to implement robust and sophisticated innovations to provide effective solutions that fit the needs of hospitals. The project serves as a facilitator between robotics and the healthcare industry by creating synergies between the two fields and paving the way for future collaborations.
Automation and robotics in the healthcare industry save valuable physician time, ensure patient safety and reduce costs for both hospitals and patients, this way generating major added value in the healthcare market. DIH-HERO’s efforts are pioneering innovation in healthcare, prompting more helpful innovations to emerge in the future.