Couverture - Robots mobiles au CHU de Nantes

At the Nantes University Hospital, mobile autonomous robots at the service of caregivers

Since 2013, the Nantes University Hospital Center has been using mobile autonomous robots to provide transport logistics for flexible endoscopes. Two devices circulate every day in the Loire establishment, a pioneer in the field.

The automated transport activity for flexible endoscopes is fully integrated into the logistics department of the Nantes University Hospital, which is in the third generation of courier robots. But how did they put a first wheel in the logistics department?

“In 2013, the general management wanted to bring together in one place the disinfection of flexible endoscopes which was provided by the various user care units” , says Tony Perlemoine, head of logistics projects for the establishment. Thus was born the CETRES, the treatment center for heat-sensitive flexible endoscopes, located on the fifth floor  of the North B wing of the hospital. “To ensure the transport of endoscopes between CETRES and the care units, an internal courier system has been set up, with four daily round trips at fixed times”, he continues.



Future developments under consideration

The successful integration of robots for the logistics transport of flexible endoscopes opens the way to new uses within the Nantes University Hospital. 2 projects are under study, one for the transport of chemotherapy preparations, like the unit of the same manufacturer deployed this summer at the Cholet hospital center, the other for the internal transport of biological samples in the laboratory.


An innovation quickly adopted

The announcement of this arrival raised some questions among hospital staff. The robots, secure cabinets mounted on an autonomous mobile base, were they not going to hinder the caregivers in their interventions? Would they be able to quickly master the use of these devices? And wouldn’t the stretcher-bearers find themselves hampered in their movements by the unexpected appearance of a robot at the bend of a corridor? All these legitimate questions have been answered one after the other, and robots have imposed themselves in logistics operations. 

The use is simple: all the carer needs to do is identify himself with his professional card (the same one used to pay for self-service or to access secure premises such as changing rooms) to open the cupboard, deposit soiled endoscopes or recover the disinfected medical devices there, then close the door and validate on the robot’s screen its departure to another delivery point or its return to CETRES, all in 30 seconds.

“Version after version, we have worked with the manufacturer to make the robots ever easier to use, to the nearest click. It has become as simple as taking a tram ticket”, explains Tony Perlemoine. A facility that has largely contributed to the acceptance of technology in the services that use it.