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New hospitals and healthcare facilities in Denmark are being rebuilt and modernized during the coming years. The aim is to enable a sustainable fulfillment of the eighth national targets that were issued by the Danish government, KL and Danish Regions in 2016. The national targets have been set as a foundation for improving quality levels of the Danish healthcare system with a strong focus on individual patient benefits, flexibility, patient safety and a better utilization of facilities. Related to the structural and constructional decisions of the new University Hospital in Køge, the hospital management at Zealand University Hospital has been considering whether or not to install overhead lifts in the new buildings or to look for other alternatives that would be more flexible and less costly. By entering into a RoBi-X partnership with Blue Ocean Robotics, Zealand University Hospital was able to design an innovative and cost-effective patient lifting solution by co-creating and involving end users.
A need for flexible healthcare solutions
Region Zealand is building a new university hospital in Køge that will act as the main hospital in the Region Zealand in the future with an expected 60.000 hospitalizations per year. The hospital management estimates that one in four hospital admissions will include a non-self-reliant patient who will require personnel assistance in patient transfer. Transfer of patients lays claim on a lot of the human resources available and is often associated with risk of work-related injuries and limited patient safety.
Thus, there is a strong need for more flexible and safe equipment that can accommodate a more modern hospital operation. Overhead lifts are a popular solution on the market for person lifting and moving but this solution is not particularly flexible. If a patient has to go to the toilet or collapses to the floor in the hallway, other facilities have to be used. Moreover, the installation of overhead lifts can be very costly, which is why University Hospital in Køge was interested in a new affordable mobile solution that could make the work easier for the healthcare staff while making the lifting and moving a better experience for the patients.
Co-creation leads to revolutionary solution for person lifting and moving
Zealand University Hospital turned to Blue Ocean Robotics to see to what extent it would be possible to develop a new person lifting solution which advantageously could replace overhead lifts. The two parties entered into a RoBi-X partnership and started the RoBi-Design phase where a robot concept and business case were created in order to clarify whether or not it would be possible to utilize robotic technology in this specific context. Here, different factors were important to consider e.g how the physical surroundings in a hospital are structured and what kind of objects and tasks that need to be taken into consideration. At the same time, the business case was created to clarify the expected outcome, the time frame, risks and costs involved in the development process.
Throughout this process, nurses and previous patients were involved in the design of the robot with a focus on pinpointing some the challenges and procedures that would be relevant to consider. Jane Skar was one of the participants in the project who has been a patient at Zealand University Hospital:
Technology that can help both the patient and the healthcare staff with all the lifting and moving is amazing, says the previous patient, Jane Skar.
The result of the RoBi-Design phase was a technical concept and a business plan of a mobile, flexible and modular patient-lifting robot with a versatile design that enables utilization in multiple hospital environments and user scenarios, like lavatory visits and showering, in outpatient clinics, in bed transports, rehabilitation etc.
As the project evolved during the RoBi-Design phase, investors were entering the scene. Multi Tower Company was established in April of 2017 to focus on the development of the patient lifting robot and to bring the solution to the market with responsibility for sales activities, marketing, service, and support. The development was made in a joint RoBi-Develop in collaboration with Multi Tower Company’s engineers. The first prototype of the robot will be ready for its first on-site tests in March 2018.
For the Project Director of the University Hospital in Køge, Helle Gaub, the co-creation process has given Zealand University Hospital a unique opportunity to apply robot technology in order to create an innovative solution that can improve quality-of-life and working environment for the future healthcare in Denmark.
The OPI partnership has given us an opportunity to develop a new and more efficient technology for person lifting and moving that takes the comfort and safety of patients and employees into account, says Helle Gaub, Project Director at PUK.
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