The barrier-busting, horizon-transcending benefit of telerobotics
An all-too-familiar sight in space exploration, telerobotics is gaining new vistas. It’s an idea whose time has come not a moment too soon. Its use in medical diagnostics and treatment, for instance, has collapsed the barriers of distance and injected the pandemic world with new hope!
Telerobotics is the sure-shot way to break the barriers of distance without breaking social distancing norms. If all goes well, it will find many takers in this pandemic world and also in the new normal that comes in its wake.
Recently IIT Delhi and AIIMS scored a big technological triumph in developing a highly sophisticated telerobotic system that enables a radiologist to conduct sonography remotely. It was a surprise moment for both the doctors as well as the patient. Perched at a safe distance, doctors were able to manipulate the test and see images of the patient transmitted live on a giant screen. What’s more, they could even interact with the patient.
It’s a discovery that has significant implications for the future of medicine. It could pave the way for conducting surgeries and administering sophisticated treatments across vast regions in India — often under-equipped with medical facilities.
The benefits are just too many to document. Remote healthcare serves the attraction to access the best resources while undercutting travel and lodging costs. Telemedicine brings revolutionary benefits in the case of critically ill, injured, or economically weak patients.
To begin with, it is not just the patient who benefits. This real-time medical care significantly helps our over-stressed hospitals, which sometimes have to cruelly deny admission to patients for want of space. But long-distance monitoring can bring expert care to a patient’s living room. The emerging use of telehealth can revolutionize medical care in developing nations or in war zones where reliable healthcare is an Achilles heel.
Oh, something else! Tele-robotics has uses that far transcend surgeries and diagnostics. In the future, robots will be ideal helpmates in dispensing medicines, disinfecting rooms, even assisting surgeries. They can perform administrative and routine tasks, sparing skilled manpower for more demanding operations. In pandemic situations, they can demonstrate their utility as they won’t be in need of PPE kits, the absence of which can significantly mar quality care. They can operate in stressful night shifts without rest or sleep. Telemedicine is also used for teleconferencing and for distance learning purposes.
The world has long grappled with a lack of nursing and paramedic staff. This spelled disaster in recent times as hospitals were overwhelmed with corona-positive patients. Tele-healthcare — and telerobotics in particular — will be a great tool to fill this critical void, if, god forbid, future waves of the pandemic hit the world.
Indeed the implications of telerobotics in medicine will be far-reaching in scope and effect.