I’m not Afraid of Infection! Robots May Become Powerful Weapons Against Virus Outbreaks

Netease Intelligence News March 23, senior US health agency officials warned that the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States is only a matter of time and only rely on specialized masks and respirators, or canned food and Gaol His cleaning appliances are not enough to fight the global epidemic. Virus outbreaks like COVID-19 underscore the growing role that new medical technologies can play in fighting the spread of new infectious diseases, especially ideas from the field of robotics.

Dr. Robin Murphy, a professor at Thor’s School of Computer Science and Engineering, Texas A & M University, said: “Extreme situations make us rethink how to do things.” The 2014 Ebola outbreak in Texas This is the first outbreak of this virus in the United States, which has led Murphy and others to carry out years of emergency response research and combine robotics with medicine to help limit the spread of this highly infectious disease.

Crazy ideas from the world of robots have attracted attention

Dr. Murphy said, however, not enough has changed. Crazy ideas from the world of robots have attracted attention, but medical experts like Murphy focus on more basic automation solutions, such as using robots for routine medical diagnosis and care of infected patients without affecting human employment, This frees up medical staff so that they can spend more time on direct care while reducing the risk of infection.

Making extreme medicine the norm

Think of a robot that can help replace IV bags or collect patient samples. This requires elaborate operations, which are more difficult to perform with heavy and hot protective equipment. Dr Murphy said: “Just replacing IV bags has the risk of infection. Some jobs have become the norm, and we take them for granted, so why don’t we automate them?”

A bed that can automatically cycle through a variety of medical operations and performs tasks that health care professionals struggle to accomplish while wearing protective gear and focusing on higher priority projects. Robots designed to handle biohazardous waste, clean rooms and ambulances are also new ideas born of an era of increasing risk experience in dealing with outbreaks. Dr. Murphy said: “Why waste are real people moving garbage? Why send nurses to change beds? Now we don’t think that robots are things that look like dogs or human figures, and the bed itself can be made a robot.

Dr. Edward Damrose Says:

The chief medical adviser to Stanford Healthcare in the United States believes that, to some extent, robots already exist and play a role in our healthcare system, although many people don’t know it. At the hospital operated by Stanford Healthcare, doctors’ diagnoses and recommendations can be done through telemedicine, and robots are sending supplies and linen to the ward.

The IV bag at Stanford Medical Center is wirelessly connected to the network and can be programmed remotely, although the system does not include the robotic bag changing design envisioned by Dr. Murphy. The sensors developed by Leaf Healthcare are used at Stanford Hospital to prompt caregivers to turn around or transport patients. Xenex’s UV disinfection robot is used in highly infectious infection rooms where toxic organisms are present.

Dr. Damros said:

I have a hunch that these could become the new medical standard. Look at the antibiotic crisis and see how these organisms adapt to disinfectants and antibiotics. It doesn’t make sense to clean the room by hand, the future There may be UV cleaning robots in the ward. “

But Dr. Damros said that because doctors don’t have much time, nurses still perform a lot of manual labor, and there are other priorities for trained residents, and obviously the hospital is a great place to look for robot replacements. He also said that humans in protective clothing will always be available and require life-saving or critical care, but simple care can be handled by robots and reduce the “risk of virus infection and spread.”

Dr. Jason Moats Says:

Deputy director of the Texas A & M University’s Engineering Extension Services Emergency Services Training Institute (TEEX), said the risk of spreading spillovers is increasing. 

TEEX is one of the largest training institutions for first responders, emergency managers, and local government officials. Last year, more than 200,000 people from more than 100 countries were trained here.

Dr. Morz said:

“The tasks performed by the robot are not meant to be unimportant, such as transferring patients around. It may be a small Roomba-sized robot that can be hung on a bed.” For more than 20 years, Motz has been training emergency for the United States Incident response personnel and emergency management personnel to respond to disasters including infectious diseases. More specifically, he has been stepping up his response technology since the Ebola outbreak in 2014-15.

He said: “We brought specialized equipment to deal with these new crises, but if we have specialized equipment, it is best to integrate it into daily operations, and then it will become institutionalized and adopted. If We can teach a robot to target a weapon, and we can teach it to target a bottle of disinfectant. “

Dr. Laurel Riek Says:

A professor of computer science and engineering and emergency medicine at the University of California, San Diego, said that during the recent Ebola outbreak, health care workers may sometimes spend more than an hour wearing protective gear. Although this helps improve safety, it can delay more valuable time and prevent them from treating patients in a timely manner. Even with strict protocols, some medical staff were infected and died, a situation that has Crazy ideas from the world of robots have attracted attention

Dr. Rick said that systems that enable clinicians to control mobile robots

Such as mobile robots with the ability to grab and manipulate objects, are becoming cheaper. Rick, who is also the director of the University of California San Diego’s Medical Robotics Lab, also said: “A well-designed robot may help reduce the risk of health care workers who are already at high risk of workplace injuries.” Robots can be used to record Vital signs, provide comfortable care, and perform some delivery and cleaning tasks. But Dr Murphy said don’t think that there will soon be “robots injecting needles into a vein like a blood drawer.”

Learn from the Ebola outbreak

MSF members often appear on the frontlines of global virus outbreaks, and they are always weighing how to apply robotics to outbreak care. “We often miss the opportunity to innovate during an outbreak, because it was difficult to innovate at that time,” said Armand Sprecher, a public health expert at MSF who was involved in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Robot development is just another form of this, and maintaining R & D momentum (and funding) between outbreaks can be a challenge. “

Use Drones for Certain Transportation Tasks

Dr. Sprecher also said that MSF does use drones for certain transportation tasks, but it has not used robotics on the ground, despite its interest in this potential. One reason is that with the spread of past Ebola outbreaks, demand exceeds the organization’s capabilities. “This untreated pain is distressing and a challenge,” he said. “The value of robots seems to be that they are not at risk of infection and are not limited by heat stress. protective suit).”

Robots can process samples and perform diagnostic procedures

Robots can also process samples and perform diagnostic procedures in a safer way without having to risk being infected to travel to remote areas, which have not yet reached the level of modern laboratory technology. Sprecher said: “Humans are an important factor in laboratory errors, so it is usually a good idea to remove them when possible. Diagnosis requires accuracy, attention to detail and patience so that every time Can do things the same way. Robots are good at it. “

But automating too many medical tasks for MSF organizations poses a unique set of risks, and the agency employs a large number of local staff as part of building community trust in remote areas around the world. “If we exclude them and prefer robots, we deprive them of some sense of self-efficacy, and it is an important way for the community to understand what is going on,” Dr. Sprecher said.

Sprecher added: “The outbreak of new pathogens has caused strangers to wear strange clothes while many are dying, which has led to a series of rumors, many of them speculating about what evil men in funny clothes are doing. This is a tricky time to introduce novelty and innovation tools. This is not to say that this cannot be done, but it must be done with care, transparency, and communication about what you do. “

Telemedicine and infectious diseases

At Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington, U.S., a telemedicine robot named Vici from InTouch Health is used to care for the first US patient with COVID-19 infection. InTouch Health is being acquired by Teladoc Health the company. This simple-looking, the slender metal trolley has a keyboard belly button, a tablet computer as a chest, and a camera mounted on the forehead to allow doctors to isolate communication with patients.

“You don’t want to make more people a potential vector,” said Todd Chaartoski, chief medical technology officer at Providence St. Joseph Health. “The company operates 51 hospitals, including Everett, and more than 90 clinical programs in 120 hospitals across eight states.

Telemedicine Robots for COVID-19 Patients Daily:

Three primary care service providers use telemedicine robots for COVID-19 patients daily. “It’s mainly used for communication, talking to patients, listening to their heart and lungs, and also talking to the caregivers in the room. This only keeps people from entering and leaving the ward. We still have to let nurses Put on the right equipment, but robots make it easier for us to listen to the heart and lungs with a digital stethoscope and talk to patients without having to wear protective clothing multiple times a day. “

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Says:

In concerns about whether the medical system can effectively respond to COVID-19, Alex Azar, US Secretary of Health and Human Services, said recently that the United States has stocks of ventilators and masks, but not enough to cope with the coronary With the outbreak, the CDC outlined what schools and businesses would look like in the event of an outbreak. Telemedicine technology is one of the solutions that Chaltowski believes can quickly scale up.

“When the epidemic breaks out, we will also be struggling. But telemedicine does not seem to be the biggest concern right now. It is designed to be accessible at home, in the ICU, and elsewhere. Extended. It’s not as ubiquitous as the iPhone, but their philosophy is the same, so it has many endpoints. If we are forced to respond to the huge demand for telemedicine, I think we can do it. “

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunging these days, Zoom Video Communications is one of the few stock market winners. Investors bet that as more companies will allow employees to work remotely, this will lead to an increase in demand for their services, not only in the medical field but in all aspects.

Robots Treatment of Current Patients with Coronavirus

Chartoschi believes that although the organization’s team of primary care physicians relies on Vici robots in the treatment of current patients with coronavirus, ultimately the hardware is not the most important innovation in the future, and the biggest innovation will be the core connection. Chartoschi believes that InTouch TV will be the most widely adopted device. He said: “This is Amazon Firestick or Google Chromecast. This is an HDMI computer plugged into a stick. It can be plugged into any TV with an HDMI port. You can install a zoom camera and microphone, and it will Television becomes a telemedicine portal. “

Providence St. Joseph Health currently deploys 200 telemedicine endpoints between robotic trolleys and TVs, which is the most cost-effective move because they can be placed in any room and are inexpensive. The company’s hospital is converting the entire intensive care unit to InTouch TV. Whether working with InTouch or other vendors, this is the direction of development in this field. “Everywhere in the future, there will be virtual visits to hospital wards. You can use it to talk to your loved ones, family members who don’t want to be exposed to danger or distant places, and Doctors set up hardware connections. “

Virtual medical access is growing rapidly

Chartosky is a trained neurologist who initially started using telemedicine in the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients, which is one of the best early use cases for telemedicine. He said: “If I see people who have stroke symptoms, I can check them fairly quickly with a camera and tell them if they have symptoms such as weakness on the left and difficulty speaking, I can look at the CT scan and laboratory records, and then contact the emergency department. Doctors make decisions together. “

The Non-Profit Medical System

At Providence Hospital, virtual visits are booming. This non-profit medical system completed approximately 100,000 virtual visits in 2019. In 2012, Providence conducted hundreds of telemedicine visits every year and has been growing rapidly, from 12,000 in 2016 to 41,000 in 2018, and more than 100,000 last year. This figure does not include the specific use of telemedicine in the intensive care unit.

Although the 100,000 virtual visits recorded last year accounted for only 1% of the 10 million annual visits to the Providence system, Chartoschi said he was concerned about rapid growth. The organization predicts that in the next three to five years, at least 10% of visits will be made using telemedicine, and this increase may be as high as 20% of total visits. “Several years ago, we set annual growth targets, but we are surpassing them every year. Everything in life is tied to smart devices, except for healthcare, which is what we need to work on,” said Chaltoskey. Direction. “

Damrosch said the number of telemedicine visits at Stanford’s primary care department has also increased. A recent survey by Bain & Company predicts that the number of physicians using some form of telemedicine will increase by 40% over the next two years (from 17% to 57%). At this point, telemedicine can replace office visits, as many routine infectious diseases, hypertension, diabetes, and stroke diagnoses are among the health issues.

Slow progress in healthcare innovation

According to Tim Van Biesen, Bain’s global medical director, compared with industries such as consumer or retail, the adoption rate of new technologies in the medical industry is notoriously slow and often has good excuses. There are regulatory hurdles, and compensation can be abused, making insurers hesitant to cover new procedures. “But it won’t resist online penetration channels indefinitely,” Bison said.

Bain’s survey indicates that more doctors will use telemedicine in the next two years, but this does not mean that they will use telemedicine in most patients. Bisson predicts that telemedicine will not exceed the proportion of patients. 10%. But in the end, there are many reasons for patients to use these services, especially during follow-up appointments. Bisen noted: “People take time out of work to wait 45 minutes, which disrupts daily life, which is why compliance in low-income communities is particularly difficult to maintain. Even if it is costly, it means A big step forward in participation. “

Think of a traditional hospital

Large healthcare systems are motivated to continue in this direction because it means that their assets (including doctors) are more efficiently used, which translates into better financial performance. Chartosky said: “Think of a traditional hospital, where you pay the neurologist and make him available on call. We put the concept in the cloud. We provide you with virtual consulting services instead of Pay your doctors for strokes to be on call 24/7. “Cloud-based clinical services (InTouch Health hosts its own private cloud network) can also help medical systems address the shortage of doctors in the United States. By 2032, the shortage of doctors in the United States is expected to reach 122,000.

“In this country, we face a medical desert where thousands of people die every day because they don’t get medical services,” said Rick. The remote manipulator is not ready for the type of tasks clinicians need to complete. However, there are reasons to believe that costs can be reduced and that the capabilities and availability of these devices will increase when general telemedicine is more widely adopted. He also said: “Prevention of infectious diseases may not be a financial incentive for the health system, but telemedicine and rural health are definitely possible.”

Cause of the current COVID-19 outbreak

This is the cause of the current COVID-19 outbreak, followed by new infectious diseases: Unless more extensive use cases are studied and tested, the technology needed to fight the epidemic may not be widely available. Ms. Sprecher of MSF says most of what his organization uses to deal with the outbreak is not specific to them.

At present, medical masks worn by everyone are in short supply, but it is not designed to protect the respiratory system during a coronavirus outbreak. Toyota’s 1978 Land Cruiser is “probably the most important moving part in response to the Ebola epidemic”, but this model is still being produced year after year as it is used to deal with less developed roads throughout developing countries’ infrastructure. MSF has also begun using drones to transport medical specimens, which were originally developed for other uses. Sprecher said: “I think these robots will be going through the same path, adjusted or customized for epidemic response.” (From CNBC Author: Eric Rosenbaum compilation: NEW YORK intelligent participation: small)

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