Monday, August 23, 2021
There have been stories of late about shortages of nurses, for various reasons. For example, NPR reported, Hospitals Face A Shortage Of Nurses As COVID Cases Soar. So, then a dear friend and colleague of mine today sent me a link to this story: Meet Grace, the ultra-lifelike nurse robot. Grace, developed by a robotic company in Hong Kong, is "a humanoid robot it hopes will revolutionize healthcare.... Designed as an assistant for doctors, Grace is equipped with sensors, including a thermal camera to detect a patient's temperature and pulse, to help doctors diagnose illness and deliver treatments....The android is a companion for patients, too. Specializing in senior care, Grace speaks three languages -- English, Mandarin, and Cantonese -- and can socialize and conduct talk therapy." The company expects to start large scale production of this robot and another robot by year's end. The article notes that this robot is attended to assist, not supplant, health care providers. There's an accompanying video, which includes a brief clip of the robot showing Tai Chi moves to the reporter. The robot at one point responds that her specialization is in "senior care." I don't know what the cost will be of such a robot and what patient load it can handle. Plus, I'm not sure about the lack of human connections in caregiving. We'll have to wait to see whether the robot is at least a partial solution to the caregiving and nursing shortages.