How robots are helping medical professionals combat COVID-19

Robots can help medical professionals dealing with COVID-19 and potentially reduce their exposure to the pandemic.

By Robotic Industries Association (RIA) April 18, 2020

With the new threat to humanity and society presented by COVID-19, drastic measures have become necessary. One such measure is the employment of robots in the fight against this deadly virus.

The COVID-19 virus is “novel” or new, which means humans don’t have any immunity to it. This creates the opportunity for anyone who is exposed to it to become infected, leading to extreme illness and even death. With such a high rate of infection, one of the prime environments for exposure are medical facilities, and one of the prime communities for infection are the people who are aiding other ill people – medical professionals.

How do you reduce the risk to medical professionals? By reducing the number of interactions they have with sick patients. This is where robots can have a major impact. Instead of risking personnel at intake locations, robots are being used to scan for patients with potential symptoms, whether it be high temperature or coughing.

Mobile robots are used in place of doctors to perform routine observations such as temperature checks. Robots are also being used to dispense medicine, which frees up nurses to help with patients in other ways. In all, the use of robots allows doctors and nurses to more effectively perform the highest priority duties where their skills and abilities are most needed. Robots are increasing the capabilities of the medical facilities they’re in while reducing the risk to those working there.

Mundane tasks abound in medical facilities, most of which are overlooked, and most of which include exposure to infection. Trash pickup, room cleaning and area disinfection, medication distribution, and meal delivery are just a few of those tasks that are being performed by robots, reducing the risk medical workers are exposed to.

Freeing staff from some of these tasks not only increases the ability of the medical facility to treat more patients, but it also helps reduce the probability that one of those workers will become a patient themselves. With the right precautions, robots can perform these tasks while preventing transmission between patients and facility workers.

Medical facilities are a hotbed for the transmission of infections, especially one like COVID-19.  Robots performing tasks that would normally put workers at risk of infection greatly improves not only the capabilities of the facility, but dramatically reduces the risk to both workers and patients. Robotic helpers can greatly improve our ability to fight, and eradicate, this threat to our friends and families.

This article originally appeared on the Robotics Online Blog. Robotic Industries Association (RIA) is a part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), a CFE Media content partner.