Robots to the Rescue – High Performance Health Care
Leadership, Operations Improvement

Robots to the Rescue

David S. Holloway/Getty Images

David S. Holloway/Getty Images

Recently, the University of St. Thomas and the Minnesota Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) hosted a speech by Vivian Luce of Cejka Search.  Her presentation was titled “Trend Benders: Leveraging Economic and Demographics to Your Advantage.”  (A video recording of this lecture will be available soon on the CHMA website.)

One of Vivian’s key points was that while the U.S. population has grown by 17.4% from 1996 to 2010, the medical school graduating class has only grown by 4.6%.  Hence we are facing a physician shortage – particularly as the baby boomers age into their later years.  During the discussion following Vivian’s speech, it was also clear that advanced practice nurses and physician assistants could not fill this gap as they were increasingly in demand as well.  

So what can be done?   New technologies are beginning to provide answers.  A number of organizations are experimenting with wireless sensors, video gaming technology and robotics for patient care.

Wireless Health

In a recent article, Dr. Joseph Smith of the West Wireless Health Institute suggests that wireless health care can lower costs and increase quality:

“Wireless health care shouldn’t be confused with electronic health records…instead, it’s a new delivery paradigm enabled by remote sensing, ubiquitous telecommunication networks, smart systems, and flexible therapies. It facilitates continuous care, helping to minimize the costs associated with chronic disease and our complicated health care infrastructure.

Wireless solutions can help physicians target patients who could most benefit from focused attention; extend the span of influence of any single clinical visit via smart systems; and create interactive and automated care paradigms to tailor therapies in response to patient-specific data – all in shorter timeframes and with lower costs.”

Avatars and Gaming Technology

Dr. Kent Bottles examines the use of avatars and video gaming technology in patient care.  He observes:

“Many of us have already formed trusting, loving relationships with technology, but we have not really thought through the implications for health care. People love and trust their iPhones and tablet computers because they are extensions of themselves.” 

Continue reading on Dr. Bottles’ blog to learn more about this fascinating development.

Robots

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has been a leader in health care informatics and has now partnered with the university’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to develop robots for the emergency department. 

They are “convinced that the basic technology is now available to create robot assistants that can perform effectively in the often-chaotic environment of the emergency room. The specialists in emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are enthusiastic about the potential advantages. So, the two groups have formed an interdisciplinary team to explore the use of robotics in this critical and challenging setting.” 

Read more about their innovations here

What do you think of the potential for new technologies like these to address the physician shortage in American health care?

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