The number of robots in the workforce is on the rise with no signs of slowing down and in the health care field, medical robotics are already being used. The da Vinci machine is used in a wide variety of fields to perform surgeries with precision. The tiny origami robot comes in a capsule, which dissolves when swallowed. It is then controlled by a technician to patch up wounds in stomach lining or remove foreign objects. The benefits of robotics are plenty: these machines show no bias, have low error rates, never get tired or need food.
Nursing and engineering students at Duke University have recently created a robotic nurse assistant funded by the National Science Foundation. Tele-Robotic Intelligent Nursing Assistant (TRINA) is currently able to bring a patient a bowl, cup, pills, and a stethoscope. When admitted to a hospital, a patient will spend most of his/her time with a nurse; with many hospitals being understaffed and nurses overworked, TRINA might be what the medical field desperately needs.
In the very near future, TRINA will be able to perform even more tasks, such as caring for patients suffering from highly infectious diseases, taking vital signs, collecting and testing fluids, and distributing medication. TRINA is not a standalone robot, it has to be controlled by an operator. The goal of TRINA and other healthcare robots is not to replace nurses and medical professionals, but to limit their exposure to infectious diseases and to better aid busy doctors and nurses. The National Science Foundation is also funding the development of a new robot that will help nurses lift patients as well as heavy objects.
Companion robots can also help patients by alleviating loneliness and treating mental health issues. When a nurse is overworked and unavailable to a patient, friendly companion robots can keep patients from feeling lonely by enabling them to make calls, play games, take pictures, and text. These social robots, such as Buddy, Pepper, and Paro, can also read emotions and interact accordingly, providing companionship and entertainment. From hospital settings to nursing homes, these companion robots can alleviate stress for busy nurses.