Technology has been perceived as the lasting solution that can replace the conventional boundaries of space and time, a move that permits nurses to access innovations in care. The study focuses on the use of robotics in nursing care to assist nurses achieve their goal in delivering effective patient care. Robotics nurses are forms of robots that resemble and act like human beings (Health Care Robotics, 2012). Robotic nurses assist patients to move around physically and perform simple roles such as taking vital signs and delivery of medicine. Robotics is perceived as an approach to improve patient care and outcomes with devices like sensors, and tablet technology, which will ultimately enhance response time, increase accuracy and guarantee safety. Moreover, this criterion is expected to assist nurses and clinical staff to improve their communication. Robotics is also perceived to introduce enhanced efficiencies in the clinical workflow, which relieves nurses and staff off other duties and enable them spend more time with patients.
Attributes of Robotic Nurses
The various forms of robotic nurses differ in the roles each of them meets. There is the lifting robot, Stan the man and the Actroid- F robots (Health Care Robotics, 2012). Other than in surgical fields, robotic technology is finding its way in the primary health care. These robots can assist nurses in lifting and moving patients in the aged care, thereby reducing back health complications in nurses. The robots have been welcomed into the system since they are less intimidating when compared with the mini-lifting machines. Stan the man is a robot applied in training of the nurses and other health professionals, with the design to respond to numerous treatments as applied by the trainee nurse. The Actroid-F robotic nurse mimics the human nurse but still cannot operate in the ethical and moral level of the human nurses. Therefore, this robot bears more challenges in real life application
Shortage of nurses and direct-care professionals in US and around the world has led to more problems as the older population are preparing for retirement (Huston, 2013). Previous studies on the effects of high patient-to-nurse ration prove that increased patient per nurse ratio is related to a 7% increase in patient mortality and a 23% increased cases of nurse burnout (Health Care Robotics, 2012). These studies have proved that reduced patient-to-nurse ration results to increased patient care. Robotics is thus believed to play positively the role of assisting nurses in their daily operations of providing enhanced health care.
Substantial development of capital and research has been made to create android and humanoid robots as a companionship to nursing care of older patients. This move has received equal measures of objection and appraisal, as the machines are perceived to take human form and deliver services. Robotic technology has been charged with inauthentic relationships created between human beings and machines. This is besides prompted concerns on potential psychological, moral, and spiritual implications for the staff and patients that will be interacting with them. Elsewhere, technological cultures have rejected the complaints as an outdated superstition, terming that the machines will eventually enjoy consciousness in materialist and behaviorist terms (Ramundo, 2012). Due to increased life expectancy globally, especially in some regions like Japan, the high growth rate among the elders and fewer labor force has led to appreciation of this technology in the health sector.
Benefits of robotics
Profound benefits are closely associated with robotics due to the present affordability and accessibility of technology. Consequently, people are living longer in technologically advanced societies with a disproportionate large growth rate among the elderly population relative to the labor force. Approximately 30% of the Japan’s population is above 65 years, a population that is in need of nursing care due to age complications. Shortage of nurses in developed countries to administer care and support has been countered with the presence of robotics in nursing care. This move could save up to $21 billion in health care cost annually in some nations like Japan. These robots act as interfaces for doctors to apply over long distances to communicate with their patients (Huston, 2013).
Challenges in implementing technology
According to the public, technology is to improve health care effectiveness, quality, safety, and cost. The public however fails to realize that these technologies are the causes of some errors and adverse events. With the increasing application of this technology therefore, device-related errors are inevitable. Even though technology is much promising, it may be unrealistic to expect its comprehensive benefits due to the following problems:
- Poor technology design that may fail to adhere to human factors and ergonomic principles
- Poor technology interface with the environment
- Inadequate plan for implementing new technology into practice
- Inadequate maintenance plan
Even though robotics has been invented, a fully equipped robotic nurse is yet to be invented due to ethical and error free technological challenge. The major challenge however in coming with these machine nurses is the challenge of programming the devices with reliable set of ethics. The machine will have to make difficult decisions concerning the patient frequently. Since its role will include offering advice that will determine the health of patients, there is need to create an ethical system for proper functioning of the medical agenda while treating the patients with profound respect. For instance, the robots are expected to remind their patients to take their medicine. If the patient refuses, it may force or ignore, which is unethical. It will have to know the reasons behind the refusal before forcing the patient to adhere to the prescribed medicine. The patient may be ill after taking the medicine and the robots may fail to notice these effects of drug. Questions have been arising as to whether these robots are to monitor unit the patients have taken the medicine, which is a breach of the patient’s privacy. If anything goes wrong, how will the doctor know? This scenario is an illustration of the daily complications nurses meet and are able to solve with much ease. The human brain is developed in such as manner that it can evaluate the situation not only through the senses but logically and by the look of a person and intonation in a response. Human are ethically between good and bad, and make judgments, which is challenging for the robots. Before making decisions on behalf of humans, robotic nurses will have to solve ambiguous situations. They will have to make moral reasoning that will outline protocols and permissions. In the face of unclear decisions, human think over situations and recognize the need for more information. Robotic nurses have the tendency of making decisions based on pre-programmed protocols, regardless of the situations
Robotic nurses as an improved technology in the health department has been received with mixed reactions even though they are of significant benefits. With the increased life expectancy in developed nations, there is an increasing need of nursing care in these regions. Shortage of nurses in developed countries to administer care and support has been countered with the presence of robotics in nursing care
Health Care Robotics. Robotic Nurse Assistant. 2012
Huston, C., (2013) “The Impact of Emerging Technology on Nursing Care: Warp Speed
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Ramundo, D. (2012). New Technologies to Enhance Nursing Practice: Nursing Critical Care.