Category: Healthcare Systems
Over the last few decades, the advancement in technology has surged at a rapid rate and spread across the globe. The accessibility and affordability of technology has pointed out several benefits, including improved quality of life, better scientific research and a higher average life expectancy in several countries. Since many parts of daily life are mechanized, people can focus on their interests and careers. Currently, in many technologically progressive societies, the population is not only living longer, but is also offering fewer children. Since many people are living up to old age and not many children are born to cover up the difference, there are lesser and lesser resources to take care of older groups.
The concept of the Robotic Nurse Assistant System was introduced to take care of elderly people and is running successful in countries like Japan where 30% of the population is over the age of 65. Currently, these systems are actively used in medical facilities & centers to lift patients safely without the involvement of humans.
Development of Robotic Nurse Assistants
• In 2009, healthcare research company Hstar Technologies started a research project designed to report the numerous clinical and technological challenges faced by different healthcare practitioners. It focused on developing a human-safe and heavy-lifting robotic system which can function in any clinical environment.
• The efforts of the research and development team resulted in the creation of the RoNA Robotic Patient Lifting System-a self-directed robotic nursing assistant designed to help healthcare providers operate and lift patients weighing close to 500 pounds.
Advantages of RoNA
In strong competition with ceiling-mounted lift systems, patient lift teams and mobile sling systems; RoNA provides some distinctive advantages such as:
• RoNA is an omnidirectional and mobile system with mecanum wheels to move in any direction. It can work in confined spaces, and explore areas where several portable lifting systems cannot travel. It is far better than mobility and maneuverability ceiling systems which are fixed.
• Telepresence support RoNA can function alongside a trained nurse, or can be supervised by a tenuously located nurse while operating with a less expertized attendant.
• Patient Safety RoNA is a smart, learning system, which is capable to sense center of gravity during the lifting process as well as automatically adjust its position. (This is primarily possible due to a unique stability system). It results is making the patient feel more protected during the lift as compared to a physical transfer involving human hands.
• RoNA works to reduce employee injury and premature retirements in facilities which have not yet organized lifting devices. This system will deliver the full benefit of a secure lifting program, decreasing workman’s compensation along with injury-related costs by almost 40%. In centers where safe patient handling programs are implemented, RoNA will enhance compliance, further decreasing injury-related costs.
Robotics Nurse Assistant System Market
• According to the healthcare industry report, the market for robotic nurse assistant system is quite flourishing in Japan. These robotic nurses are also utilized in the United States where they were thoughtful developed.
• It is predicted that in the near future nurse assistant robots may be fully prepared to help take care of the elderly population. In Japan more than a third of the population would be senior citizens by the year 2025, 12% higher from the statistics of 1990. According to reports, Japan required two million professionals in 2010 to offer care for the elderly, but lacked by a count of 700,000. If analytical trends continue, the deficiency will double by 2025 to reach 1.4 million.
• Presently, Japan is developing robot nurse assistants to help with mechanical tasks, empowering nurses to give their patients extra quality time. Currently, the only robot fulfilling safety standards in Japan is known to be the Cyberdyne (8C4 Frankfurt) Exoskeleton. Each of these robots cost $1,780, which is quite less as compared to the annual average salary of $25,000 for a nurse in Japan. This cost-benefit analysis is quite convincing.
• If robot helpers, like the Cyberdyne Exoskeleton, are compared to half of a nurse, then around 2.8 million robots will be needed to complete the shortage, developing a $5 billion market involving personal health care robots at current prices in Japan alone. It was revealed that, the sale of medical robots on a global scale valued $1.5 billion in 2013. Although not used for surgery, these personal care robots in the hospital environment would significantly surge the market for nursing robots. By satisfying nurse scarcities with nurse assistant robots, human nurses can grow more productive, adding fineness to the patient experience while dropping costs at the same time; making it a win-win situation for the healthcare system.
What if there was a simple, effective way to drastically reduce the costs of Canada’s Medicare program? There is. It’s called hypnosis.
Lower the number of patients
Shorten hospital stays
Reduce the amount of prescribed medications
Hypnosis, or more precisely, hypnotherapy, is an ideal complement to medical care. Here are some of the ways in which it could drastically reduce visits to family doctors, emergency rooms and hospitals:
Reduce anxiety (including panic attacks)
Compliance with prescribed meds
Reduce stress (and therefore heart attacks etc)
Change eating habits
End phobias of needles and MRIs
For example, a study conducted at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York found that when women participated in a hypnosis session before breast surgery, they experienced less nausea and required less pain medication than the control group. Patients in the hypnosis group also cost the hospital $772 less.
What a doctor or nurse says to her patients carries a powerful impact. When medical professionals learn how to talk in a positively hypnotic manner to patients:
Conversations will be quicker, thus saving the health care people time.
Patients will better absorb information about their prognosis.
Pre-operation hypnotic explanations will reduce patients’ anxiety.
Patient anxiety and blood pressure will be significantly reduced.
Patients will be more compliant.
Nurses and doctors will be less stressed, and
Most of all, patients will recover faster.
Hypnotic Self-help for Patients and Staff
Patients who are taught simple self-help hypnotic techniques will have less need for medical aid and hospitalizations.
Similarly, doctors and nurses who use hypnosis to relax themselves, to handle stress on the job, to deal with difficult patients and colleagues, will be more efficient. Thus time will be saved, less overtime required and staff will enjoy their work more.
How To Implement This Safe, Simple Solution
Twenty-two years ago while I was recovering from an 8-bypass operation I listened to a hypnotic recording created by a colleague. The Head Nurse told my wife “I don’t know what he’s listening to, but everyone should have one.” Sadly, the Head Nurse never followed up.
But now, as the health care crisis heats up in Canada and we can look forward to either the collapse of a Medicare overburdened with elderly people, or increases in taxes on an already heavily-taxed population, surely the time has come to apply the safe process of hypnotherapy to the sick vehicle of social medicine.
An easy way to train doctors, nurses and the public at large in the easy-to-learn hypnotic techniques that could revolutionise health care in Canada would be to ask hypnotherapists across this great country to put on free workshops in hospitals and clinics.
A second tactic would be to teach high school students (the medical professionals and patients of the future) the benefits of lowering their own stress levels and building healthy habits with self-hypnosis.
The Internet is awash with hypnotic MP3s, DVDs, eBooks and CDs, many of them free. This is the 21st century way for patients and health care providers to enjoy self-hypnosis — and therefore better physical and mental health.
All it would take for students, nurses and doctors is one hour to acquire hypnotic self-help techniques that would last a lifetime.
Despite factors such as nutritional deficiencies, seasonal migration, erratic meal timings and a myriad of other factors elucidated in my earlier blogs that result in the proliferation of malnutrition in the tribal villages and districts, the issue of malnutrition can relatively be easily controlled to a great extent with adequate delivery of healthcare services and provision of affordable and accessible healthcare in the tribal areas. I will touch upon the major aspects of tribal healthcare services, its links with the issue of malnutrition and inherent limitations of the same to counter the issue. In the process, I have also made an attempt to make some suggestions with respect to each of these factors that contribute in the spreading of malnutrition.
Tribal Hospitals – Links to nutrition
Most tribal hospitals can prove to be lifesavers with respect to the life threatening health problems faced by tribals in the villages in Maharashtra and elsewhere in India. The single biggest factor that leads to malnutrition is the lack of proper food and nutrition. Part of the problem is also the lack of awareness regarding the importance of balanced diet and other daily dietary and nutritional requirements. For this, perhaps, if the tribal hospitals in these regions can be equipped with a nutrition rehabilitation unit, then a very critical source of this life threatening issue can be curbed. The nutrition rehabilitation units could help address the nutritional imbalances in the daily food intake of the tribal population suffering from malnourishment. The purpose of these nutrition units could be to dole out special therapeutic foods that contain macronutrients such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates and also very important micronutrients such as the essential vitamins and minerals. The therapeutic food can be made from local food sources and using local manpower itself. In addition to this, the primary health centre (PHC) too must be equipped with specialised child healthcare treatment centres that provide this essential therapeutic diet to the malnourished (target) population.
Paucity of Primary Health Centres
Primary health centre (PHC) or public health centre is the backbone of healthcare service delivery in India, especially urban slums and rural areas. PHCs are the basic structural and functional unit of public health services. The main objective behind a PHC is to provide accessible, affordable and available primary healthcare to the rural population. The numbers of PHCs in rural India and especially in tribal areas are themselves not adequate. At present, there is only one PHC serving approximately 35,000 tribals, on an average. The lack of adequate number of PHCs relative to the tribal population in these areas is quite alarming. In an ideal situation, one PHC can serve a population of around 10,000 people only and covering an area of 5-8 kilometres, at most. However, at present, a tribal has to travel up to 20-25 kilometres to reach the nearest PHC.
The State government must ensure adequate number of PHCs at an approximate 8-10 kilometre radius of the tribal village. CHCs (Community Health Centre) and PHCs need to be made more accessible for the villagers. In case a specialised CHC and PHC cannot be erected at all the required locations, then the Government must ensure at least one health sub-centre in all the tribal villages.
Non-availability of Doctors and Nutrition experts
Even with these PHCs in place, healthcare service delivery in tribal areas faces other major problems. That is, extreme shortage of medical personnel. Medical doctors, nurses, nutrition experts and other medical personnel are unwilling to relocate to tribal areas in order to practice medicine and serve the tribals. In the tribal belt of Maharashtra, the doctors are not ready to go and work in the hospitals in these areas. So, most of the hospitals in the tribal areas remain under-staffed most of the times. There is particular scarcity of maternal and child health (MCH) specialists and other medical specialists such as paediatrician, nutritionists, anaesthetics, among others, in the tribal hospitals. Further, due to severe lack of paediatricians in government hospitals and PHCs in such tribal areas, if the infant/child is suffering from chronic malnutrition, the risk of the child succumbing to death during the first 1,000 days (of birth) increases manifold. Thus, there is definitely a strong correlation between lack of trained medical specialists and malnutrition deaths.
We are well aware of one of the age-old superstitions related to pregnancy and food intake. That is, the tribal women follow the practice of low food intake during pregnancy for easy and comfortable delivery of the newborn (resulting in anaemia among mothers and malnourishment among the infants). The intake of nutritious diet is the least among women when they actually need the most!
Another critical hurdle that healthcare faces are that the local population usually don’t want to admit their children to hospitals due to superstition, cultural barriers and various other socio-economic factors. Since these tribals often don’t admit their malnourished children to hospital, children are dying at home.
The state governments can perhaps start a home based ‘Child Healthcare Program’. For instance, I think the government of Delhi has done well by introducing Mohalla clinics. This is a very clear signal of why primary healthcare must be delivered as close to home as possible.
In such aforementioned programs, the respective malnutrition cases can be treated in the comforts of their home and village by a trained female health worker. This female health worker could focus on special healthcare needs of a pregnant woman; help provide ante-natal care (ANC), post-natal care (PNC), provide guidance and assistance to young mothers, newborn and infants. Perhaps, the Maharashtra Government can start such a program wherein all the underserved rural areas, especially the tribal areas, are provided essential maternal and child health care facilities. Here, government health officials and staff such as the Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers, Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) scheme workers, Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANM), among others, can be roped in to provide such dedicated and specialised care to the focus groups.
Furthermore, health counsellors can be roped in to advocate and promote the provision of institutional deliveries. The counsellors can ensure 24 hour care and counselling services, especially in the most underserved tribal regions. The state governments can invest and develop such ‘Health Counselling Programs’ via the support of local Non-Governmental Organisations, etc. This will further ensure affordable, accessible and equitable health care delivery among the rural and tribal populace.
Government Failures – Under-reporting of malnutrition cases
Under reporting of malnutrition and child deaths is a very big issue. The average Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), that is, the number of child deaths per thousand live-births, is close to around 60 in all tribal areas. But this is reported as less than 40. Similar condition is for reporting of the severe acute malnutrition (SAM) cases. The prevalence of SAM is approximately 20% of the total malnourished children, which is very high. But as per government figures, it is regularly reported as less than 10%! In essence, suppose there are 1000 children who are severely malnourished, but only half of them are reported as SAM cases. The remaining (estimated around 50 percent) children suffering from SAM thus get excluded from specialised care and treatment, if any. These are essentially the ‘missing SAM’ cases. These excluded/missing/neglected children are thus more prone to succumbing to death in the absence of the much needed care.
Thus, correct statistics, correct recording of the facts and figures and correct reporting can go a long way to at least move in the right direction and thereby to solve the severe malnutrition prevalent in these tribal areas. This will ensure proper planning, implementation and execution of targeted treatment and care for both the severely and moderately acute malnutrition cases in the tribal villages.
In conclusion, I would like to lay greater emphasis on the present health systems in place at the central, state, village, and district and block level to work in tandem rather than independently. There is a dire need to strengthen the linkages and synergies of all the major stakeholders of heath care in India, especially in the most underserved rural and tribal regions of our country. The State government needs to commit greater investments towards the tribal healthcare ecosystem. Tribal hospitals need to be equipped with state of the art facilities, focussing especially on the most vulnerable sections of the society such as the young mothers, pregnant and lactating women (PLW) and newborn and infants and children below the age of 5 years. Furthermore, there is an urgent and persistent need to devise formal behaviour change communication (BCC) and community mobilisation (CM) strategies by the CHC, PHC and health sub-centres to comprehensively address the cultural barriers prevalent among the tribal population.
Lastly, relationships between tribal cultures, behaviours, government interventions (such as subsidies), health system and policies and malnutrition need to be studied in detail. The solution to address such a huge problem like malnutrition cannot be generalised. That is because the demographics of the tribal community very dynamic and varies region wise. Thus, focussed ingenuous interventions need to be carried out at the micro level, specific to that very district, that very block and that very village or hamlet.