Will medical robots replace doctors as they work in Shenzhen?

Ampoule bottle cutting, breaking, penicillin bottle opening, disinfection, shaking, suction, infusion... In a 100 level enclosed environment, the dispensing robot "Lantern Angel" skillfully operates complex dispensing procedures with its flexible robotic arm. From verifying the prescription to preparing and dispensing the medication, it takes only 2 minutes to prepare a bottle of chemotherapy medication made up of a mixture of 6 drugs. This is the scene that the reporter saw in the inpatient pharmacy of the surgical building of Peking University Shenzhen Hospital. Since September last year, the intravenous infusion robot "Lantern Angel" has been working in the hospital for over a year.

On November 6th, the results of the 2017 National Physician Qualification Comprehensive Written Examination were announced. iFlytek's artificial intelligence robot "Intelligent Medical Assistant" exceeded the score line by 96 points, becoming the first robot in China or even the world to pass the national physician qualification examination.

Medical robots are here, will robots replace doctors? How long will the industrialization of medical robots take? Recently, at the Second World Medical Robotics Conference (hereinafter referred to as the "Conference") held in Shenzhen, research experts from the field of robotics, medical experts from the clinical front line, and leaders of industry companies dedicated to application discussed the scientific research and clinical application of medical robots on stage. Everyone agrees that although medical robots only do some auxiliary doctor work and are still far from achieving true "robot doctors", the application prospects of medical robots in hospitals are still worth looking forward to. A reporter's investigation found that with the arrival of the artificial intelligence era, Shenzhen hospitals and medical robot enterprises are working together to accelerate the research and development and clinical trials of medical robots, and accelerate the localization process of medical robots.

Application:From "Da Vinci" to "Lantern Angel" Medical Robots Continuously "On Duty"

When it comes to medical robots, the "Da Vinci" surgical robot is widely praised. In 1999, the first generation of "Da Vinci" surgical robots was introduced in the United States, and in 2000, they were officially approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration. Soon, they became popular worldwide and entered the surgical rooms of top hospitals around the world.

Although the "Da Vinci" surgical robot has not yet made its debut in Shenzhen, the medical guidance robots, dispensing robots, and medical delivery robots developed by Shenzhen enterprises have been continuously invested in hospitals, mainly used in intelligent guidance, health education, intravenous dispensing, rehabilitation and other scenarios.

The intravenous infusion robot "Lantern Angel" at Peking University Shenzhen Hospital was developed by Shenzhen Bowei Medical Robotics Co., Ltd. Its main function is to prepare tumor drugs, and it is currently in the clinical testing stage. In the past, the chemotherapy drugs needed by tumor patients relied on manual configuration by nursing staff, which not only easily caused human errors and pollution, but also posed a potential threat to patient safety. "Ren Yuxiang, the head nurse of Peking University Shenzhen Hospital, said that chemotherapy drugs have strong volatility and corrosiveness, and nursing staff have a high risk of occupational injury. Since the introduction of liquid dispensing robots, pharmacy nurses no longer have to share this repetitive, simple, and high-risk task, but instead focus more on observing and caring for patients, clinical health education, and improving the quality of medical services.

Recently, at the 2nd World Medical Robotics Conference, Shenzhen Rob Medical Technology Co., Ltd. launched the company's latest developed medical transportation robot - unmanned vehicle. The main working scene of this robot is to help medical personnel transport medical equipment and blood samples in disinfection rooms or surgical rooms, freeing up manpower, improving efficiency and safety. The blood samples taken by the hospital have time requirements, and manual delivery needs to wait for the blood sample quantity to accumulate to a certain extent, which may delay time. Moreover, this part of the work is usually undertaken by nurses, which is very boring. "said Guan Lei, a staff member of Shenzhen Rob Medical Technology Co., Ltd., and unmanned vehicles can solve these problems.

Guan Lei introduced that this unmanned vehicle can be delivered across floors through vertical elevators and can transport items between various departments in the hospital. In terms of security, the unmanned vehicle is equipped with dual identity authentication of fingerprint and card swiping to ensure that the samples on the vehicle are not taken away by other departments or patients, and to prevent sample loss or contamination. It is reported that this unmanned vehicle will soon enter the hospital for testing.

Focus: Robot replacementDoctor? At present, medical robots can only be "supporting role"

The "Da Vinci" surgical robot performs minimally invasive surgery, the "Lantern Angel" performs intravenous infusion, IBM's Watson robot performs lung cancer diagnosis, and the "Intelligent Medical Assistant" passes the national physician qualification exam... From guidance consultation to infusion diagnosis, the application of medical robots in the medical field is becoming more and more widespread, and their role is also increasing.

Will doctors be replaced by robots?

Although these medical robots have not yet truly entered clinical practice, some doctors are already worried about "job insecurity". However, most doctors, researchers, and industry insiders say that robotic doctors can never replace human doctors, at best reducing their workload.

Although artificial intelligence has significant potential applications in medical rehabilitation and surgical technology, robots still have far less memory and learning abilities than humans. "At the conference, Zhang Jianwei, an academician of the Hamburg Academy of Sciences and a professor of information science at the University of Hamburg, stated that" the human brain is a very powerful cognitive system, and it will take decades for robots to fully realize The combination of internet communication and other means with medical robots has unlimited application prospects in the field of medical rehabilitation.

Professor Guan Yi from the School of Computer Science and Technology at Harbin Institute of Technology also stated that compared to clinical medical experts, medical robots have many advantages, such as being able to perform complex work for seven consecutive days and endure patients' negative emotions. However, in today's complex medical decision-making programs, machines still lack sufficient knowledge expression and reasoning ability.

As the manager of the hospital, Qiu Chen, the director of Shenzhen People's Hospital, believes that there are still many flaws in medical robot products, making it impossible to replace doctors. For example, there are still many key issues that need to be addressed in surgical robots. It is necessary to improve the visual control ability, so that doctors can move their eyes to control the 3D lens perspective without time difference. "Qiu Chen said, but currently, some surgical robots have outdated technology, such as seeing blood vessels bleeding, but in reality, the bleeding has already occurred, and a few seconds of delay in the transmission process can bring incalculable consequences to patients.

Qiu Chen is even less optimistic about the medical guidance service robots that many companies are currently developing, believing that such robots are like toys. The guidance robot can only ask mechanical questions such as' Hello, which department are you looking at? '' What help do you need? 'This cannot solve the pain points of hospitals. For hospitals with a large number of outpatient traffic, it is actually a burden and takes up limited space, "said Qiu Chen.

Qiu Chen's statement has also been verified to some extent. Last year, among the first batch of "on duty" robots at Peking University Shenzhen Hospital, there was another nursing robot called "Emma". Emma can be considered a "tour guide" in a ward, who can tell patients how to handle admission procedures, introduce the hospitalization environment, and advise on hospitalization matters. If a patient has any unclear matters to look for, they will "never tire" of it. It often helps nurses "run errands". As long as the nurses load the delivered items into its storage compartment and input information such as bed number, it will "run" to the patient's bed and "deliver" the goods. The patient can automatically unlock and pick up the item by scanning the barcode on the wristband and matching it with the "code".

However, three months ago, "Emma" was sent back to the manufacturer for further education because her work was too limited to meet the needs of medical staff in the ward, and further development was needed. Nurse Sun, head of the orthopedics department at Peking University Shenzhen Hospital, said that "Emma" will not stop or turn when encountering obstacles in the ward, and further development is needed in terms of "intelligence" and service functions.

Prospects: Medical MachinesPeople are standing on the air vent;New rehabilitation robots produced in Shenzhen may make their debut next year

At present, the classification of medical robots is not unified, but a common classification method is to divide medical robots into four categories: surgical robots, rehabilitation robots, auxiliary robots, and service robots. Guidance robots, medical transportation robots, and others are collectively referred to as service robots.

In China, medical robots are still in the research and development or clinical trial stage, and there are almost no cases of achieving product scale. Guan Lei stated that this is mainly due to the low popularity and usage rate of medical robots in China, which makes it more difficult to market medical robots. The reporter learned that rehabilitation robots and medical service robots are clustered in small enterprises, with severe product homogenization, and high-end technology still relies on imports. Due to the high terminal prices of dispensing robots and consumables, the purchasing power of hospitals is not very strong.

However, medical robots are standing at the forefront of policy. According to Boston Consulting's calculations, the global medical robot industry will have a stable compound annual growth rate of 15.4% over the next five years. By 2020, the global scale of medical robots is expected to reach $11.4 billion. Driven by capital, the enthusiasm of Shenzhen enterprises in researching and developing medical robots has also been increasing. They have accelerated cooperation with universities and hospitals, making research and development of medical robots a key research project, and accelerating the localization process of medical robots.

With the intensification of global aging, rehabilitation robots have become a focus of enterprise research and development. According to relevant statistics, over 30% of medical robot production enterprises in China are rehabilitation robot production enterprises.

At present, the rehabilitation robots imported from abroad cost about 4 million yuan, and the equipment is expensive for treatment and has become a decoration in many hospitals. "Cao Qixin, director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering Manufacturing and Quality of Life Engineering at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said," Due to the current shortage of rehabilitation doctors and the rigid demand brought by the aging population, the development of domestic rehabilitation robots is very urgent

Exoskeleton robots are currently the most widely recognized type of assistive device among the public, and can be used for rehabilitation care. At this year's High tech Fair, Shenzhen Chenghui Weishi Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd. showcased a next-generation soft biomimetic exoskeleton product that organically combines soft robots with rehabilitation care, making the exoskeleton lightweight like clothes and controllable through EEG. This product is based on years of biomechanical research and development of neuromuscular model control algorithms, providing a comfortable bionic assistance trajectory, providing assistance rather than forcing human walking. "Zhao Yanjun, Deputy General Manager of Shenzhen Chenghui Weishi Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd., said that the next generation of exoskeleton robots will significantly improve the quality of life of rehabilitation patients and improve walking efficiency, which will lead to stroke, spinal paralysis, arthritis A life assistant for patients with Parkinson's disease and elderly individuals with limited mobility. It is reported that in 2018, Chenghui Weishi will launch a commercial exoskeleton robot model. At that time, it will completely overturn the image of traditional exoskeleton robots that are bulky, expensive, and inconvenient to wear, and change the entire human wearable exoskeleton robot industry.

It is not difficult to find that although medical robots are still quite far from achieving true "robot doctors", Shenzhen medical robot companies such as Bowei, Rob Medical, and Maibu are accelerating their cooperation with hospitals and promoting the industrialization of medical robots, Only by combining medical treatment with technology, continuously improving clinical pain points through clinical trials, and developing products that meet the needs of hospitals, can we promote marketization and industrialization, "said Guan Lei.