AI in Medicine: Robot as a Doctor

Dec 8, 2016

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Robots that assist surgeons or help disabled people in their daily routine: automation is conquering medical industry. But how does it look in practice and what impact will it have in the coming future? Will robots replace human doctors one day?

Are robots better surgeons?

Robots in operating rooms – that may sound absurd, but it is not a scenario of a science fiction movie. It has already become a reality. Computer-navigated surgeries are currently in great demand and technological advances in medical robotics are continually growing. Highly complex machines are used in complicated and risky surgeries.

Robots are responsible for the following tasks:

  • They assist surgeons holding tools and helping to use medical instruments exactly on the right place.
  • They switch the devices off, in case a risk appears the surgeon can make an incorrect cut.
  • They perform surgeries autonomously in accordance with the instructions of human surgeons.

Benefits:

  • Robots move exactly according to calculations without trembling.
  • In emergency cases, they react much faster than humans.
  • They don’t fatigue and don’t suffer from nervousness.

Especially in extremely delicate minimal invasive operations robots can reduce risks. Concurrently, they reduce time spent for the surgery and, as a result, its’ costs.

Robots as diagnosticians

Robots are used not only as assistance in operating rooms but also in diagnostic processes. Virtual assistants, as an example, compare symptoms of a patient with the entire medical knowledge available online just in seconds and make a diagnosis as well as treatment suggestions.

Controllable capsule robots to be swallowed by patient are currently under development. In the future, they will help in gastrointestinal tract examination. But that’s not all: They are expected to be used to release medicines in the part of the body where they have the best effect.

Will robots replace humans one day?

Implementation of robotics in medical sector has become a much-discussed topic. There are 2 main points:

  • Patients concern they will be helplessly at the mercy of robots.
  • Medical doctors are afraid to be replaced by robots.

However, at the present, it is very unlikely.

The reasons:

  • Surgeries often require spontaneous decisions that have far-reaching consequences.
  • Robots are not able to make ethical decisions.
  • Besides medical knowledge, doctors are asked to have empathy.
  • Though robots can absorb and store a lot of information, they still can compete in professional experience with human doctors.

No doubt that the increased use of robots in medicine is leading to personnel reduction during a surgery.

Big chances for the future

In the future, both patients and doctors will benefit from digitalization.

  • Greater accuracy, no fatigue or nervousness and an extremely fast capacity of reaction: all this will ensure better surgery results and reduce risks.
  • Quicker surgeries are more gentle and safer for patients and doctors; it enables cost and material savings.
  • Doctors have an additional feeling of safety being supported by modern assistants working with high precision.

In the long term, medical robots might deliver the same results as they can work consistently on a high level which is naturally impossible for humans.

Summarizing, we are about to enter the new era called Industry 4.0. There is no doubt that robots will continue to grow in importance.