Autonomous robots bridge elderly healthcare gap


EIT Digital is putting its weight behind the concept of autonomous robot colleagues for hard-pressed professionals in elderly care provision by supporting the development of SARA (Social & Autonomous Robotic health Assistant) as part of its focus on Digital Wellbeing. SARA is a consortium-led initiative that aims to improve the quality of care in nursing homes and hospitals by introducing robots as social entities – taking on time-consuming tasks and interacting with patients without requiring a human operator. The consortium includes analytics and data science specialist Bright Cape, Forum Virium Helsinki, GIM Robotics, Curamatik and TU Berlin. The idea is to address the twin challenges of caring for a rapidly ageing population and an acute shortage of healthcare professionals, helping to balance a workload that is under ever-increasing pressure: it is estimated that 13.8% of nurses deal every week with the consequences of heavy work pressure – medication errors, for example – while patients feel the impact on quality of care. While there is nothing new about the idea of robot colleagues in healthcare, most of the current generation of robots perform activities that need to be set up and led by a human operator.

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