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Your View: Robots and health care

The field of robotics could change the way health care is delivered. There is some evidence that using robotics to relieve health care professionals of some their burden can improve the quality of health care, for example.

How would you feel about having a robot take care of mom?

Click the Submit Your Comment link below and tell us. And see CBC.ca's Robotics feature series here (new features will be added daily through July 20).

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Comments

Carolyn

I've worked in Retirement Homes and institutions for the Senile and Deranged. The treatment they get there is so rigid in its order that if something goes in any way other than according to plan, they have to change the schedule to maintain their times and whatnot.

A robot caring for my mother vs. the human employees, imo, wouldn't make a difference, considering the way they have been trained to act.

Even robots can fake kindness, concern, and love, just as workers are trained to do when handling delicate situations.

So yes, I think a robot would be suitable for the job, but I don't see the technology as being prepared enough yet.

Posted July 18, 2007 09:16 AM

Grant Czerepak

Winnipeg

I think robots for strenuos activities such as lifting or routine activities such as cleaning would be a boon for both healthcare professionals and patients. However, more interactive care should remain in the hands of humans for the time being.

Posted July 18, 2007 10:38 AM

Lorina Stephens

Perhaps I'm being paranoid, but I cannot help but listen to that internal warning that says this is the beginning of the slippery slope. We already have so many problems with the dehumanization of medicine, and abuse of the elderly or infirm, that adding a robot to replace true compassion and human interaction I feel will only absolve us from developing our skills as decent, caring individuals.
I am all for the advancement of technology and boldly going forth, but when it comes to replacing human kindness with a fuzzy toy, I think we've gone beyond sensibility and responsibility.

Posted July 18, 2007 10:38 AM

Chuck

You mean my family physician ISN'T a robot? He is so rude and cold, I thought for certain... For $200k, how many new medical grads could we generate? The Fed. Gov't should get more involved in med schools, creating new spaces and incentives for students, young and old. And why can't my optometrist manage my glaucoma - I can see him on a moment's notice, while an ophthalmologist is impossible to find...

Posted July 18, 2007 04:12 PM

Barb

Using robotics in healthcare delivery seems logical. Of course, I would expect that robotics useage would be monitored thoroughly and evaluated properly. We presently have a healthcare system which is heavily dependent on every technology we can afford, so why not add robotics?

Posted July 18, 2007 04:45 PM

Charles

Ontario

Lorina Stephens:

You are being paranoid.

I visit old folks homes as part of a volunteer service given by a group of people who want to make these lonely elderly happy. When we visit, the folks there are so happy to see us they beg us to stay.

Mr. Smith (name has been changed as per rules and regulations) enjoys telling me about the wars he fought in and about how his wife thinks he's a hero.... she's been dead for thirty years.

Mrs. Doe begs us to bring her stuffed animals to play with because "they won't let me bring my Patches with me." Patches was her dog, which, unless registered as a therapy dog, is not allowed within the premises.

The fact is, these people are not cared for by humans in the first place. They're shuffled about, treated like children without the added warmth a parent might give, and generally forgotten about.

If a robot is capable of providing them comfort I say PLEASE do it. All the company they can get, as they won't get it from humans, makes them extremely happy.

Posted July 19, 2007 08:10 AM

Allen

Halifax

So much of medical robotics being funded and promoted is just plain silliness. The logic goes something like this. Medicine is kind of high-tech, and robots are kind of high-tech, so let's put them together and get some money from the government to have some fun. We can get some surgeons to play video games and play with manipulators. We can take photos of robot arms doing "surgery" on plastic models. We can tell everyone that this is very important for the future. After all, we might need to do brain surgery in Antarctica or on the way to Mars. Or maybe in some poor country where they don't have doctors. Give me a break. Like so much of the publicly funded scientific enterprise, it is all about politics and creating the illusion that we are a technologically advanced country. They babble about economic opportunities and spin-off companies that are supposed to follow - just don't ask if there is a real need. It seems that robots are still a metaphor for intelligence gone awry.

Posted July 21, 2007 06:04 AM

Donna Cooper

My elderly parents live in a rural community in Saskatchewan. It is a 2 hour trip to Regina to see specialists. The trip is very hard on them as the day is very long. Most often the actual time with the specialist is 5 minutes. Recently my mother and I were told that a procedure would be set up within a month and that was it. A system of talking to the specialist via a robot or video conferencing would save much time & energy & money both for the doctor and the patient. The elderly and their care givers are usually very tired and time is precious. An all day trip for 5 minutes usually takes the elderly several days to get over.
In long term care homes this system would be especially helpful. The care robots might be fun & educational for the residents of all ages. Hopefully though the robots would not relace the human touch and the love so necessary for all of us survive.
With the health care under so many pressures I think long distance conferencing would be absolutely welcomed.

Posted July 21, 2007 08:13 AM

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