ABB brings robotics to new healthcare hub at Texas Medical Center

The vendor’s research team will work on the Houston-based provider organization’s campus with medical staff, scientists and engineers to develop non-surgical medical robotics systems.
By Bill Siwicki
01:03 PM
ABB brings robotics to new healthcare hub at Texas Medical Center

The ABB Medical Lab.

ABB, a vendor specializing in electrification, industrial automation, motion, and robotics and discrete automation, will install advanced collaborative robotics for medical laboratories and hospitals, starting with a new healthcare hub at Texas Medical Center in Houston.

The new facility at Texas Medical Center’s innovation campus will focus on non-surgical medical robotics systems.

WHY IT MATTERS

The facility will be ABB’s first dedicated healthcare research center when it opens in October. ABB’s research team will work on the Texas Medical Center campus with medical staff, scientists and engineers to develop non-surgical medical robotics systems, including logistics and next-generation automated laboratory technologies.

THE LARGER TREND

Today, a limiting factor to the number of patients who can be treated is the need for highly skilled medical experts who spend a large part of their day doing repetitive and low-value tasks, such as preparing slides and loading centrifuges.

Using robots to automate these tasks will enable medical professionals to focus on more highly skilled and productive work, while ultimately helping more people to receive treatment through dramatically speeding the testing process.

ABB has analyzed a wide range of current manual medical laboratory processes and estimates that 50% more tests could be carried out every year using automation, while training robots to undertake repetitive processes will reduce the need for people to do tasks that cause repetitive strain injury.

As the world population ages, countries are spending an increasingly larger proportion of their GDP on healthcare. In addition to improving the quality of patient care, increasing healthcare efficiency through automation can ease some of the societal, political and financial challenges that this will cause, ABB said.

The market for non-surgical medical robots is estimated to reach nearly 60,000 by 2025 with the market almost quadrupling versus 2018, according to internal ABB research.

ABB’s collaborative robots, which already operate in food and beverage laboratories worldwide, are well suited to medical facilities as they don’t require safety fences to operate safely and efficiently alongside people, the company contended.

The robots will undertake a range of repetitive, delicate and time-consuming activities including dosing, mixing and pipetting tasks as well as sterile instrument kitting and centrifuge loading and unloading, the company explained.

ON THE RECORD

“With this exciting partnership, Texas Medical Center continues to push the boundaries of innovative

collaboration with cutting-edge industry partners by establishing Texas Medical Center as the epicenter for ABB Robotics’ entry into the healthcare space,” said Bill McKeon, president and CEO of Texas Medical Center.

“Operating a city within a city that sees 10 million patients on an annual basis, it is essential to prioritize efficiency and precision and to develop processes that are easily repeatable in nature,” he added. “By bringing ABB into the fold at TMC Innovation with this first-of-its-kind R&D facility for creating robotics solutions in healthcare, Texas Medical Center is emphasizing its commitment to doing just that.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com