How Robotics is Revolutionising Healthcare

From vital signs monitors to MRI machines, technology has revolutionised healthcare across the developed world. However, with the NHS operating at near capacity throughout the pandemic, we must look to newer technological advancements to help alleviate pressures on medical staff and adapt and improve our health services to bring them into the 21st Century. One of the greatest facilitators of this technological shift is, and will continue to be, robotics.

The future of HealthTech is robotics

Robots are already used for a variety of functions across a broad range of health services. For example, there are robotic medical assistants which monitor patient vitals to alert nurses when there is need for a human presence in the room, allowing nurses to monitor several patients at once. Moreover, robots also assist with surgeries, meaning doctors can conduct surgery through tiny incisions rather than traditionally larger ones. Robots even help carry supplies and manage storerooms.

However, the pandemic has highlighted the vast supply chain failings of the healthcare system when faced with the task of population-scale testing and the use of robotics in medicine must be adapted to provide a solution. Indeed, at Salient Bio, we have developed a robotics-driven workflow which has revolutionised our ability to run mass PCR-based tests.

Accuracy, speed, efficiency

The attraction of robotics in healthcare falls under three main categories: precision, speed and efficiency. These qualities are applicable to all the medical processes robots are utilised in, making medical procedures safer and less costly for patients and relieving medical personnel from routine tasks.

In coronavirus testing, for example, cutting-edge liquid handling robotics has provided the pace and accuracy needed to flex up Salient Bio’s testing capacity, helping us develop the fastest robotics-driven COVID-19 mass testing platform on the market. Crucially, the efficiency of robotics-driven testing affords the ability to provide mass-scale proactive diagnoses for the conditions it is applied to, facilitating early intervention and saving lives.


Wide applicability

Whereas the attraction of robots is in their performance, their beauty lies in their versatility. They have the ability to work in at least one role in almost any discipline in almost any sector. In healthcare, this could not be truer.

Indeed, when used in testing, the number of medical conditions PCR-based robots can test for is huge, signalling the future potential of their use in diagnostics as a whole. In fact, beyond the pandemic, we are looking to turn our versatile supply chain to a wide array of medical conditions, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sepsis. The latter costs the UK Government up to £15.6bn each year in medical treatment and earlier diagnosis facilitated by robotics would cut billions from this figure as sepsis, like many medical conditions, is far easier to treat the sooner it is caught.

Keeping everyone safe long-term

It is important to remember that robotics is not just synonymous with high-income countries – the benefits this technology can bring to healthcare are far greater, relatively speaking, in lower-income countries. Long-term, the cost-efficiency and speed of robotic testing could form the basis of a Next-Generation Sequencing offering where microbiome-based health tracking can monitor entire populations in higher and lower-income countries and catch medical conditions early to facilitate proactive intervention.

With illnesses such as respiratory tract infections, diarrheal diseases, malaria and tuberculosis representing over 90% of deaths in the developing world, revolutionising diagnostic platforms with robotics provides the greatest hope for a healthier future for all.
Written by Jack Priestman, Co-founder at Salient Bio

Jack Priestman