Benefits of implementing robotics in care facilities

A significant portion of a healthcare facility executive or decision maker’s responsibility is ensuring optimal patient care. While there’s no shortage of new technologies and services claiming to optimize a facility’s efficiency and the care it provides, not all of them live up to their hype. In this guest post, Dr. Eric Dusseux, CEO of a robotics company focused on providing rehabilitation and mobility solutions, will explain how as payment models shift to value-based, there’s a vital need for quality of care to be the new bottom line, particularly for facilities providing physical therapy.


Each year, approximately 15 million people worldwide are diagnosed with stroke. In the United States, it’s the third leading cause of death and for those lucky enough to survive stroke, it’s also the single greatest cause of long-term disabilities. Subsequently, the demand for physical therapy and rehabilitation from neurological conditions is enormous.

A prevalent post-stroke symptom is losing motor skills on one side of the body, which complicates once-ordinary tasks such as getting dressed in the morning, shaking hands, eating on their own, or even walking. Rehabilitation and physical therapy are what patients rely on in order to regain that independence and normality.

Traditionally, human therapists have been almost entirely responsible for administering a series of exercises, retaining tasks and stretches to help patients regain balance and strength. It has largely been effective, with studies recording between 32 and 80 upper-limb movements in a single one-hour session. However, recent neuroscientific research shows that regaining movement and restoring function requires much more intensity, repetition and active patient engagement than what the majority of conventional therapy models are capable of providing.

How do AI and robotics enhance care?

Additional studies on robotics in rehabilitation – specifically for aiding upper-limb recovery for stroke survivors – indicate a bright future for physical therapy outcomes.

In 1997, the first such study marked noticeable improvements in active upper-limb movements, compared to individuals undergoing traditional human-only therapy. For stroke survivors receiving robotic therapy rather than human-only therapy, this recovery was not only sustained but kept improving for as long as three years after therapy was completed. A 2010 Veterans Administration (VA) multi-site robotics study indicated that intensive robotic therapy resulted in marked improvements in active movement and functional upper-limb use, as well as improved quality of life and 34% fewer healthcare costs over the course of 36 weeks.

To truly optimize patient care, human therapists need help implementing results-oriented therapy while they help patients recover. One way to provide such help is in the form of robotic physical therapy systems powered by artificial intelligence (AI). While this can seem like trendy technological jargon, its impact in medicine – especially in physical therapy for survivors of stroke – is calculable and astounding.

A distinct advantage of robotic physical therapy systems is they’re able to more precisely detect movements in therapy sessions and provide individualized assistance as needed. This results in between 600 and 1,000 recorded movements per session – much greater than the 32 to 80 physical therapy movements recorded during human-only therapy. This improvement is tremendously important to patients, since so many rely completely on this therapy to restore vital bodily functions and participate in daily life.

How do shifting payment models come into play?

In addition to providing value for each individual patient, greater efficiency in physical therapy has monetary benefits for healthcare facilities. Value-based payment models continue growing in popularity and demand that care providers reevaluate their therapy plans and the effectiveness of interventions regularly for each patient. It’s becoming less enticing for caregivers to prolong treatment, as they’re now compensated primarily for delivering a higher quality of care instead of care that takes longer periods of time. When your revenue is more directly tied to the quality of care you provide, higher movement frequency becomes less of a therapist issue and more of an executive issue. According to research from Deloitte Consulting, value-based payment models have the potential to upend traditional patient care and business models. While some healthcare organizations hesitate, others actively prepare for the inevitable transition to value-based care.

How do we make it happen?

Robotics’ benefits – already quantifiable and projected to become increasingly so as payment models shift – are very difficult to ignore, but rapid change has the potential to intimidate patients. Older patients may be especially cautious when the change involves technology that’s only existed for small periods of their long lives. The good news is they have nothing to fear – and in fact only things to look forward to – from this technology’s adoption. Providers must address patient concerns and articulate that robotics can serve as a tool to optimize the therapy they depend on to restore movement and quality of life.

Humans’ role in physical therapy is still important, as the connection between caregivers and patients will be unchanged. The process of regaining temporarily-lost functions and abilities can be emotional and requires hard work from both parties, but it’s in everyone’s best interest to optimize physical therapy as much as possible. AI and robotics can drive that required increase in efficiency, and it’s caregivers’ and executives’ responsibility to make sure the technology is accepted and integrated into the therapy world.

Dr. Eric Dusseux is CEO of BIONIK Laboratories, a robotics company focused on providing rehabilitation and mobility solutions to individuals with neurological and mobility challenges.

Source: Healthcare Business & Technology,