Ethics or Efficiency: What has to be Considered for Robotics Deployment in Healthcare?

Effective governance and assessment of technology are imperative for identifying the thin line between healthcare ethics and modern technology.

FREMONT, CA: Recently, a healthcare provider incited public outrage by utilizing a robotic application to deliver delicate information to a patient suffering from chronic lung disease. This incident is one of many instances where healthcare providers have failed to identify the line between modern technology and ethics. When implementing cutting-edge technology, organizations also need to consider the patient point of view.

Finding a Balance

Several healthcare organizations utilize remote robots to transmit video between departments. However, more care has to be taken when deploying robot technology in clinical settings. It is practical to implement a governance strategy with the guidance of executive committees and project leadership teams. Organizations can pilot new technologies in contained areas and conduct comprehensive testing and validation so they can address the potential issues with the work process and to make the necessary adjustments for a successful deployment. 

Organizations can also implement control centers to monitor the technology and conduct regular assessments regarding their workflow in terms of the patient experience. It will enable quick responses to any issues that may arise in patient-facing technology. However, it is essential for organizations to identify and define the purpose and capability of the technology, as well as its limitations.

Robotics and Healthcare

Even though robotics is widely used in telemedicine and surgical environments, its utilization for patient interactions is shadowed in uncertainty. The murky waters around the integration of robotics in clinical settings have made organization take a step back and evaluate the viability of investing in the technology.

The pilots conducted for the testing of robotics should include patients as well as healthcare staff to assess the coexistence of humans and machines in clinical environments. Hence, the deployments also require a dash of social science as well as a flexible working relationship between the developers and users.  Organizations can consider scaling the deployments only after validating the functionalities.

However, a comprehensive evaluation cannot avert unforeseen incidents. The technology has not advanced as far as to perceive the complexities of the social world. Also, the ethical and legal frameworks can barely keep up with the rapid evolution of modern technology. In this regard, it is essential for healthcare organizations to prioritize patient care above all else. Hence, healthcare providers need to assess the balance between technology and ethics while also considering patient expectation before deploying robotic applications.