Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, Director of WMG at the University of Warwick, has predicted that patients could in future find themselves face to face with a robot when they first arrive in hospital thanks to research work by his team. He made the prediction in a speech on Monday 18th August, in a ceremony in which he received an honorary doctorate of sciences from the Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur.
The doctorate of sciences is IIT Kharagpur’s highest accolade. Only 16 have been awarded in the institute’s history. Previous recipients have included Mother Theresa.
Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya studied in IIT Kharagpur as a young man before coming to the UK. In his speech he made particular reference to how technology first developed for manufacturing processes was now increasingly being deployed in health care by research groups like WMG. He said:
"The fundamental challenge for hospital managers is to maximise the effective utilisation of costly healthcare equipment and optimise the throughput of patients. Consider the problem of ensuring patients are in the right place in hospital for their treatment at the right time, a logistical issue that currently consumes the time of nurses, doctors and hospital porters."
"We are researching systems where patients manage their own movement around a hospital with robotic guidance. This frees up human resources to focus on treatment and care."
"In one application we found that a typical blood test sample was looked at by 21 different people, each time introducing a risk of error and time and cost spent. In another we applied the type of simulation modelling used in laying out new factories to look at the flow of patients in an emergency department. Applying these principles meant we were able to provide exactly the right number of doctors and nurses to meet patient demand."
His speech also looked at the demands on energy sources, improved energy efficiency and his suggestion that a revolution in car technology could help prevent world conflict, he suggested: "In short, the more scientific solutions we apply, the less pressure on resources there will be, and the lower the risk of human conflict and tragedy."
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Peter Dunn, Press and Media Relations Manager, Communications Office, University of Warwick,
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PR63 PJD 18th August 2008