Will Some Healthcare Jobs be Taken Over by Robots?
Advanced practice jobs require extra years of training, education, and on-the-job experience. These specialists often focus on one area and, as one might expect, can command fairly large salaries. They are often the only medical professional at a hospital that can operate certain machines or perform certain advanced surgeries. However, what if some of these surgeons and other specialists stepped back and allowed robots to do their jobs? It is no longer science fiction – the Wall Street Journal has recently reported that more and more surgeons are using robotics to perform operations with great success.
A Sharp Rise in Use
In the year 2000, robotic surgery was brand new. Only around a thousand surgeons around the world would use robotic arms or other types of robotic devices to perform surgery. Most relied on their hands, and patients were understandably a little uncertain about robotics. Some horror stories about these robotic arms causing more damage than they repaired flooded the papers. However, by 2012, there were over 450,000 surgeons using some form of robotics to assist in surgery, and there are very few accidents.
What lead to this increase? Several things. First, technology has increased to the point that robotic surgical arms are small, precise, and safe. They allow doctors to perform surgery with smaller incisions, which means patients do not bleed as much and do not need as long of a hospital stay. They also do not scar as much. Surgeons can see more clearly using the tiny cameras on robotic arms than they can see with their own eyes, allowing for cuts that are more precise.
There are also benefits to the surgeon. They do not get as tired as they would standing over an operating table, so there’s less chance of doctor error or fatigue. They do not require a large operating room staff, either.
The Wow Factor
Another reason why so many hospitals and surgeons are considering robotic arms and other surgical aids is the wow factor. New technology is always impressive, and many hospitals want to be able to brag about having the latest in surgical equipment. While that is not necessarily a reason to opt for robotic surgery, it does mean that many hospitals will have the equipment available for those surgeons and patients who wish to use it. It can be a way of drawing in new patients.
Because robotic surgery is not risk-free (no surgery is, of course), many new regulations are being implemented to make certain that all new technology is proven and certified before it is used on any patient. All patients must be informed of all of the benefits and risks of robotic-assisted surgery, and all surgeons who want to use the equipment have to be trained and certified.
As with anything, there is often a cost to robotic surgery. Because of the advanced technology used, it is often more expensive to have than standard surgery. However, patients should have their surgeons explain the overall costs. In some cases, robotic surgery is actually cheaper because it means a shorter hospital stay and fewer pain medications, all of which can add to a patient’s bill.