The e-healthcare solution that helped a German hospital

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St. Marien-Hospital is the oldest hospital in Cologne, Germany. It is a teaching hospital for the university and it is also the second-largest geriatric centre in Germany. The hospital does a lot of research, and they started to use a really innovative e-healthcare solution in order to increase the level of healthcare services for the elderly. In this blog post, I would like to show you St. Marien-Hospital’s Pepper robot project.

E-healthcare solution: Pepper robot with patients and a nurse in a German hospital
Pepper robot is talking with patients in a German clinic. Source of the image: Softbank Robotics

Healthcare sector executives face challenges

St. Marien Hospital faces the same challenges as all of the other German and most of the European hospitals. COVID-19 disease puts pressure on almost every business and institution. Hospitals also have to protect their patients and employees equally from being infected.

On the other hand, there are other problems as well as the ageing population or the shortage of medical staff. I brought you a study from Eurostat:

This chart shows the increase in the share of the population aged 65 years or over between 2009 and 2019 in the European Union (EU-27). The study states that the main two drivers of this change are the low birth rates and higher life expectancy.

This research also remarks that “probably the most important change will be the marked transition towards a much older population structure, a development which is already apparent in several EU-27 Member States” (Eurostat: Population structure and ageing).

Now, you can see that it was very important for the hospital to find new ways of therapy. But how did they find Pepper robot?

They were looking for a new e-healthcare solution…

Prof. Dr Ralph-Joachim Schulz also presented in the webinar of Softbank Robotics, what was on 15th October. The professor is the chief medical officer at St. Marien-Hospital. He is also a member of the board of the german society for geriatrics and EUGMS.

The webinar was about using humanoid robots in healthcare and the professor spoke about the hospital’s Pepper robot project. The institution cooperates with Entrance Robotics, a German robotics company.

The professor told the audience, that he had first met Pepper in a newspaper. He had found the robot fascinating, as they were looking for new therapy ways for elderly patients.

How Pepper robot helps St. Marien-Hospital?

The robot has a very friendly, cute appearance, so it is very easy to accept it. The professor showed pictures about how friendly the robot was greeted by the patients. Entrance Robotics developed an application which can inform and also activate the seniors. The robot can play games and quizzes with them and it can motivate them to participate in fitness training. The robot can even show them the movements of the exercises.

The professor stated that the robot can also help patients with dementia. The emotion recognition is a key feature in this work because people with dementia can’t express their feelings in the right way. Thanks to this feature, the robot can recognize their feelings and interact with them accordingly.

Conclusion

Pepper robot integration is not finished, however, the advantages of the robot are proved. It is a contactless e-healthcare solution, which means safety even during this current pandemic situation. The robot is cute and friendly, elderly patients accept it easily. Pepper can help the patient with dementia, it can play games, quizzes, activate and motivate them. It can also relieve the physically and mentally overwhelmed nursing staff.

I have to admit that we don’t develop these robots to take medical employees’ job but to help them and increase the level of healthcare services.

Are you about to find a new e-healthcare solution for your patients?