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Hospitals resort to robots amid Covid-19 pandemic
  • By Shim Hyun-tai
  • Published 2020.08.13 18:16
  • Updated 2020.08.13 18:16
  • comments 0

While healthcare workers in the world are exposed to high risks of the infection amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Korean hospitals have come up with a solution to this problem -- advanced robotic technologies.

In this country, ubiquitous robotic companions that use fifth-generation technology and artificial intelligence are in operation at many hospitals. These medical institutions have decided to make active use of the robots, not just to protect workers from infections as initially planned but also for other purposes.

Among those making the most of these robots are the Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH), Samsung Medical Center (SMC), and Myongji Hospital, where robots are providing various services such as cleaning, disinfection, guidance, fever detection, and delivery.

The Seoul National University Hospital uses two robots -- LG CLoi CleanBot (left) and LG CLoi GuideBot – to clean the hospital and guide visitors. (SNUH)

SNUH has introduced LG CLOi CleanBot and LG CLOi GuideBot robots to clean the hospital, control visitor access, and measure fever.

LG CLOi CleanBot can clean even the intricate hospital halls armed with technology to avoid obstacles and navigate autonomously. It is also equipped with medical-grade H13 high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to maintain a clean environment.

LG CLOi GuideBot helps with basic respiratory check and body temperature measurement. SNUH has measured fever and tested all visitors since Covid-19 hit Korea in January. It can sharply reduce the risk of infection by carrying out the tasks done by healthcare workers and converting one by one check into a non-face-to-face way.

SMC has also implemented six medical support robots that can sterilize negative pressure rooms, transport medical waste, and detect fever.

The six medical support robots, two for each function, are being leased for free until the nation entirely puts Covid-19 under control.

The robot to disinfect negative pressure rooms has a built-in function to beam eco-friendly ultraviolet light-emitting diode (LED) and inhale and sterilize air. The robot can disinfect even the blind spots that are out of reach with moving arms and operate at all times.

SMC placed a fever-checking robot for general visitors at the hospital entrance and the lobby. The robot is equipped with a thermal imaging camera, adjusting the angle to visitors' height when they look at the screen and automatically measures the body temperature.

When a symptom is found, the nearest screening clinic appears on the screen and a voice prompting to confirm body temperature. It also dispenses cleaning fluid by a sensor without pressing it by hand.

The third type of robot transports clothes and medical wastes used by health care providers and confirmed patients. It is programmed to recognize a person's appearance, follow the operator, or move by itself according to the input path.

Myongji Hospital in Goyang, just north of Seoul, offers remote treatment and safe checks by using robots at its screening center, which is being operated to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

The hospital separated the screening process into two stages. It used RP-Lite V2, developed by a telehealth solution company InTouch Health, in the initial check. RP-Lite V2 is armed with a high-definition camera and monitor, checking the face of medical workers and patients by zooming-in and -out functions and connecting with a smartphone through Wi-Fi.

After detecting all visitors' body temperatures, the hospital treats people with a temperature of higher than 37.5 degrees Celsius at the screening clinic. Suppose the initial screening concludes that another medical professional is needed. In that case, the hospital carries out a remote consultation by connecting the robot to the doctor's smartphone.

The robot is also accessible to multiple people and helps specialists in various fields diagnose patients simultaneously.


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