“Robots will play an important role in providing physical assistance and even companionship for the elderly”
— Bill Gates
Robotic care deploys robotics to support patients, care professionals or informal care providers. The term does not include technological innovations in robotic operations because those take place in a clinical setting.
Application & benefits
Care robots can fulfil various roles. They can monitor patients who live independently or support them in physical activities [1-3]. The robots can also offer companionship and help combat loneliness [4-7]. Many robots combine practical and social roles. In addition, robots can provide insight into the well-being of the patient by collecting, processing and analysing data . Patients and seniors are able to live independently for longer with a better quality of life as a result. Robots increase autonomy, self-reliance and mental well-being of the individual [9, 10]. Care robots have advantages over human professionals: they are available 24/7, have endless patience and do not make mistakes . Ultimately, care robots unburden loved ones, informal care providers and care professionals [12, 13].
The total market value of robotic healthcare systems, which includes surgical robots, amounted to $8.3 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $28.4 billion by 2026. This is partially due to positive changes in attitudes about the use of robots as well as the fact of (double) ageing . The market value of robotic care is on the rise as well with an expected increase from $650 million in 2019 to $1.5 billion in 2027 [13, 15]. Robotic care applications are expected to alleviate care professionals from 60% of care-related activities by 2040, especially in the homes of seniors.
Increased awareness and growing acceptance
New technological capabilities
Increasing pressure on the healthcare system
Lack of awareness and reluctance among potential users
High costs (development, purchase, and maintenance)
Robots are becoming more widely accessible and of better quality. Robots that support human interaction alleviate the pressure on the healthcare system. This became clear during the corona crisis: robots were able to keep lonely seniors company . Robots can also support by performing chores, which is leading to their increased acceptance. When ethical and privacy issues are resolved, the door to large-scale implementation opens.
Applications in robotic care are becoming more advanced and reliable. The need for an alternative to overloaded healthcare professionals and informal care providers is growing and large-scale adoption of robotic care is just a matter of time. Robotic care ultimately leads to an autonomous system that enhances healthcare for the patient, improves the healthcare professional’s experience and reduces healthcare costs.
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