Robots and artificial intelligence are becoming more regular parts of many, many industries, and healthcare is no exception. Artificial intelligence has helped streamline processes in healthcare related to staffing, appointment management, prescription ordering, and much more, and when coupled with robotics, it is also proving to be a successful means of correcting issues with human error in surgeries.
On the whole, most modern surgeries are highly successful, but the percentages of failed surgeries in communities that generally serve more people of color are higher, just one of many health disparities in the U.S. related to race. With both the promise of limiting human error and, by default, helping adjust the aforementioned racial disparities for the better, robot assisted surgeries are gaining popularity and trust in the healthcare community, and here are some reasons why.
Even though it’s nice to think that patient health is the most important factor when deciding whether or not to implement new technologies, the truth is that some are just too expensive, and paying to implement them would cost so much money that patients would ultimately be underserved in other areas. The robotic surgery market is expected to surpass $7 billion in the next 5 years, due to the opinions of many being that the precision and advantages are well worth the short-term investments.
Ultimately, the money saved on human hours, training, and human error will pay for itself, making robotic surgery a sound investment in both patient health and fund saving that can be reallocated to other areas of patient health.
Robot assisted surgery has been proven to result in fewer complications for patients, including less blood loss, shorter hospital stays and speedier recoveries, and less chances of post-surgical issues like infections. In the short-term, complications from COVID-19 also make it more difficult for surgeons to do their jobs safely. With robotic surgery, the procedures are contact-less, just like some of our shopping options have been advertised as.
This is a two-part advantage, with the first pertaining to hospital staff. Very few people expect robotic surgery to put surgeons’ jobs at risk, and many patients will still request human surgeons for the foreseeable future. With this, patients who do elect robotic surgery can get their procedures done at, literally, any time, making surgeons’ schedules much more flexible.
The versatility in robotic surgery, itself, is even more appealing than the flexibility it allows hospital staff to have. Already, robotic surgery options have been developed for surgeries of the gallbladder, stomach, pancreas, hernias, artery bypasses, lung cancer, prostate, hysterectomies, tumor removal, and more.
Given the economic investments into robotic surgery, ways to enhance it are well- funded and growing rapidly. Advances in enhanced imaging, alone, are already helping doctors find issues before they happen and saving lives on a daily basis. Data analytics and machine learning can also be programmed into these robotic surgeries so, if anything would go slightly wrong, the issues can be “learned” and shared with all other teams utilizing the same technologies.
Robotic surgeries also allow for savings in training, allowing more individuals to consider careers in healthcare, given less financial barriers. In addition to finances, racial disparities must be mentioned when discussing what advantages robotic surgeries offer, as well. Racism exists in healthcare, and there are numbers to back it up. One place where proponents of “robots being even smarter than humans” can point to is that robots are unable to be racist, unlike humans, and robotic surgery will help close these gaps in healthcare-related racial disparities.