What are the different applications of intelligent mobile robots in healthcare establishments?
In the current context, hospitals must optimize their management to reduce their expenses while guaranteeing quality and safety of care for the patient. The time has come to find sources of productivity, security, gains by taking into account the activities supported in the patient journey and in particular logistics.
For several years, new generation Autonomous Mobile Robotics (AMR) has been able to circulate in complex environments in the presence of the general public. Indeed, unlike AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles), AMRs are 100% autonomous in their journey. They use Artificial Intelligence, in particular SLAM (Simultaneous Localization And Mapping) algorithms allowing them both to locate themselves at all times and to dynamically avoid any obstacle that has not been mapped. Thus, autonomous mobile robots are able to navigate in complex environments, in the presence of the general public, stretcher bearers, etc. while ensuring optimal efficiency in their transport and without modifying the existing infrastructure. They integrate safety functions (intrinsic safety, sensors, cameras, etc.) to facilitate human-robot interaction. Users can then refocus on their higher value-added tasks while mobile robots take care of transporting goods from one department to another.
The possibilities of application are more and more numerous, we have decided to list the most used:
The need to pool medical resources for the sake of economy makes new hospital complexes increasingly large. The health professions are constantly under pressure. We have seen that medical/paramedical staff spend a large part of their time traveling to transport equipment. This activity forces him to interrupt his main mission: to be with his patients; and most of the time generates a great source of stress and a great loss of efficiency.
In recent years, Autonomous Mobile Robotics has been mature and intelligent enough to meet the challenges of hospital logistics. Indeed, Autonomous and Intelligent Mobile Robots guarantee a double efficiency gain:
1- Transport of analysis samples
Analytical samples require special attention, especially during transport. Indeed, the analysis samples must be transported with extreme precision in a short time. In a laboratory, the Meanwhile Autonomous Mobile Robot streamlines sample flows by automated distribution of tubes to specialized sectors and the various laboratory teams. Meanwhile, staff can concentrate on their core business.
After entering an identification code, the biomedical analysis technician places the samples to be analyzed in the secure cabinet of the Meanwhile mobile robot. Via the touch interface present on the robot, the technician chooses the delivery destinations. Once the doors are closed, the mobile robot leaves to carry out its deliveries in complete autonomy. When approaching a delivery point, it signals its presence by emitting a sound and switching on the luminous glass of the room concernaed. After identifying themselves on the interface, the recipient collects their samples and the mobile robot resumes its rounds.
2- Transport of chemotherapy
The delivery of chemotherapy preparations requires special attention during transport and reception. In a CHRU, the mobile robot streamlines chemotherapy flows by automated distribution of bags to specialized departments. In order to avoid possible exchange errors, the Meanwhile mobile robot has a “pick-to-light” system to illuminate the drawer on which the chemotherapy to be received is located.
3- Transportation of drugs
In a university hospital the robot will deliver drugs to the care units. The Meanwhile mobile robot thus contributes to reducing the movement of healthcare staff by around 9 km/day. “Meanwhile…”, the staff can remain physically with the patients and concentrate on their core business. Patients are then safer with caregivers always nearby. The quality and accuracy of healthcare delivery is maximized.
4- Transport of medical goods
The Nantes University Hospital has decided to centralize the processing of endoscopes. To do this, he opted for the creation of a “flexible endoscope processing center” with the mission of cleaning around a hundred endoscopes a day. In order to avoid long journeys, the center has invested in autonomous mobile robots available 24/7 to transport endoscopes through between the various departments of the hospital and the endoscope processing center.
5- Transport of meal trays
Mobile robots can also ensure the delivery of meal trays to patients and the return of these empty trays to the catering service. Meanwhile, caregivers can focus on caring for patients.
6- Room service
Patients can order from their room, via a mobile application, magazines, drinks, etc. in a hospital shop. Patients can order from their room, via a mobile application, magazines, drinks, etc. in a hospital shop.
7- Transport of laundry
Meanwhile mobile robots can also take care of the distribution of clean laundry through the different care units.
8- Transportation of waste
Meanwhile mobile robots can ensure the automatic and autonomous delivery of hospital waste.
The current health crisis is forcing all organizations to put in place strategies to guarantee the continuity of their activity. Fighting the spread of infectious diseases such as Covid19 has become one of the top priorities for establishments open to the public and businesses. To remedy this problem, many establishments open to the public employ employees who manually clean and disinfect high-traffic areas. But this is costly and risky for employees.
In order to deal with these new problems, many disinfection solutions are available to automate these tasks. Especially in the mobile robotics sector which plays an important role in the fight against SARS-Cov-2 all over the world.
1- Autonomous Mobile Surface Disinfection Robot
We find on the market many mobile robotic solutions dedicated to the disinfection of surfaces, either by the projection of chemical substances, or by the direct exposure of the latter to UV-C radiation. These two methods are of great interest, but also raise many issues of personal safety and environmental protection.
2- Autonomous Mobile Air Disinfection Robot
The coupling of photocatalysis and UV-C disinfection, with which the Meanwhile XuP-Steri A robot is equipped, destroys pathogens, such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), viruses, bacteria, odours, etc. This technology makes it possible to limit the spread of infectious diseases both in spaces with large volumes (industrial hall, laboratory hall, shopping centers, etc.) and small volumes (waiting room, cinemas, sports hall, etc.)
It is one of the few mobile robotic solutions that uses no chemicals and avoids direct exposure to UV-C light. This solution is able to disinfect the air of establishments in complete autonomy 24/7 around vulnerable populations.