South Africa – The Steve Biko Academic Hospital, a purely tertiary healthcare institution rendering specialized and highly specialized services to medically referred patients in South Africa, has welcomed a mobile robot called Stevie to help improve the treatment of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hospital, which is the main teaching hospital of the University of Pretoria, launched Stevie at the its Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

This robot will be vital in allowing for a bedside ward round attended by ICU teams across the globe, through instant live discussion and communication daily between German and South African intensive-care unit teams.

The global medical robotics market is expected to reach US$ 12.7 billion by 2025 from an estimated US$ 5.9 billion in 2020 at a CAGR of 16.5% during the forecast period.

Technology has taken over the healthcare sector with introduction of new innovations like healthcare robots being witnessed.

The key factors propelling the growth of this market are the advantages offered by robotic-assisted surgery and robot-assisted training in rehabilitation therapy, technological advancements in robotic systems.

In addition to this, robotics improve reimbursement scenario, the increasing adoption of surgical robots, and the increase in funding for medical robot research.

However, the high cost of robotic systems is a key factor limiting market growth in the coming years.

Robotic technologies appear in many areas that directly affect patient care. They can be used to disinfect patient rooms and operating suites, reducing risks for patients and medical personnel. They work in laboratories to take samples and the to transport, analyze, and store them.

Academic and Clinical Head of the Department of Critical Care at UP and Steve Biko Academic Hospital, Professor Fathima Paruk, said the gender-neutral Stevie is the second robot to be employed by UP, following Libby the robotic library assistant who arrived in 2019.

Stevie is now officially the much-adored baby of our ICU team and is stimulating much excitement throughout the hospital,” Paruk said.

Stevie has a privacy handset which is a live phone to aid confidential communication during ward rounds; a stethoscope port where it can remotely relay information while a patient is being examined, and enables visualization of detail for close-up diagnosis and patient care oversight with high-definition pan-tilt-zoom cameras.

Stevie will be used for the benefit of all ICU patients, including COVID-19 patients as well as for exchanging ideas, specialist training, global collaborations, webinars and educational workshops, especially for highly selective or niche specialties in critical care.