Healthy Conversations

Healthy Conversations with Saint Alphonsus

Robot-Assisted Healthcare: New Frontiers

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I’ve asked David F. Kirk, MHA, our Director of Operations to contribute today, to talk about some of the exciting developments here at Saint Alphonsus Health System in using the latest technology to help patients:

David F. Kirk, MHA, Director of Operations

David F. Kirk, MHA, Director of Operations

Computer technology, particularly the use of robotics, has grown significantly in health care over the last decade. Robotics connected to exoskeletons have been able to support paraplegics to walk upright again, to guide a surgeon’s hands, and to carry medications throughout the hospital. Robotic technology is quickly becoming commonplace in the operating room for a variety of specialties, including: neurosurgery, general surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, gynecology and orthopedics. In surgery, robotics can mean smaller incisions, decreased blood loss, less pain, and potentially quicker healing time.

Saint Alphonsus Health System has a history of investing in robotics to support our health care team in the care of patients. The Da Vinci Robot has assisted multiple specialties in improving recovery time and enhancing minimally invasive surgery. Surgeons interact with the robot through ‘telesurgical’ means, wherein the robot becomes a tool while the surgeon controls the motion of the robot remotely. The robot allows the surgeon to accomplish movement that a human can’t perform.

Our pharmacy is supported by an automated dispensing system that has dramatically RIO_300dpi_2reduced the likelihood of medication errors. Saint Alphonsus is also the only hospital in the state to have the MAKO Robot, a robot that received the Medical Design Excellence Award in its ability to assist surgeons replace a portion of a patient’s knee. Partial knee replacement requires precise placement of an implant that replaces human bone. The basis for its use is that the better the placement, the longer the life of the implant and better function of the patient’s knee after surgery. The robot allows the surgeon to move the implant within millimeters; so again, the technology is able to create precision that exceeds that of a human’s capacity.

The future is exciting. As more technological breakthroughs create greater use for robotics and further decrease the cost for these technologies, we will see more and more opportunity to enhance the extensive training and skill of our care providers with robotics.


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