In my perpetual efforts to catch up with my reading in the area of patient compliance, I came across two recent entries at Medication Non-Adherence, Another Home Robot to Improve Medication Adherence and Would You Trust Your Eldercare To A Robot?, discussing the development of robots to enhance adherence to treatment among the elderly.
Both posts are thoughtful, insightful, and provocative and I can wholeheartedly recommend both as worthwhile reading.
And yet, those entries inexplicably lack two vital components, which I feel obligated to proffer as a supplement of sorts to the efforts of my brother blogger. This response, by the way, has nothing to do with the failure of Alex Sicre, the author at Medication Non-Adherence, to acknowledgment my own posts on the topic of Compliance-enhancing Robots, including Cute, Cuddly Robot Pets Remind Elderly To Take Pills, …
and my extrapolation from that post, Upping The Ante In The Pill Pet Scenario.
No, if I were going to have hurt feelings – not that I do, mind you – it would be over the diss implicit in the failure to mention my development and promotion of The RoboCop Compliance Program. Based on the percepts electronically implanted into the hemi-mechanical hero who was the prototype for the law enforcement robots featured in the RoboCop movies, the Program is simplicity itself:
- RoboCop (Dr. RoboCop to you) presents the healthcare recommendations.
- RoboCop enhances compliance with his trademark line, which also serves as the Program’s slogan (Click to hear RoboCop Treatment Adherence Slogan)
But enough of that. Let’s move along to …
Elements Missing From the Robot Posts at Medication Non-Adherence:
1. A Misanthropic, Wildly Speculative, Tangential Soliloquy
In the literature I’ve found, as well as the sources quoted in the two posts at Medication Non-Adherence, the focus (and often the exclusive focus) is on caring for the elderly. I assume that choice is predicated on two of the fundamental driving forces in contemporary society:
- Greed: The elderly are a large and rapidly growing portion of the population, and there is an often referenced, albeit rarely articulated, generic commitment from the government to fund their care.
- Responsibility abrogation: My own cohort is facing the increasing likelihood that our parents, if not already in need of assistance, will require extra help in the near future, and I certainly intend to do everything I can to assure that the next generation, including my two sons, shoulder their obligation to care for their elders. It is clear, however, that few of us face this task with enthusiasm. Dispatching a robot to care for Grampa James may be a tad less empathic than Jimmy, Jr helping out, but, hey, it’s better than being pushed onto an ice floe.
I would, nonetheless, suggest that other population segments might provide good candidates for such services. The example that comes to mind is my son who suffered a head trauma followed by a coma and a recovery period of 1-2 years. Especially during the rehabilitation period just after his return home from the hospital, he required constant monitoring. Although 90%+ of his behaviors were appropriate, he would unpredictably have cognitive lapses, one consequence of which was that his adherence to medication doses and schedules was erratic. A robotic companion would have eased the burden on me as his sole caregiver and would, I suspect, have been easily accepted by him. A number of other diagnostic and age groups might benefit as well.
Specialized robots for specialized populations.
Just a thought.
2. Photos You can’t tell your robots without a program.
These carebots from GeckoSystems Inc. cost: $19,950 each, including delivery and two-day training.
This video is from the same company, GeckoSystems Intl. Corp, showing CareBots providing healthcare support of elderly, in this case, it presents “One family’s reaction to a CareBot™ for their mother.”
The graphic below is found at Carebots & the good life, a site produced by the Philosophy Department of the University of Twente, which is one of the three participants in the 3TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology. They are “looking for a PhD student to work on the project “Carebots and the good life: An anticipatory ethical analysis of human-robot interaction in (health) care”.
Infanoid (pictured below) is from CareBots Project (Robotic Platforms). Many other photos and movies of human-emulating robots can be found at this site
Graphics Note: The image atop this post is my adaptation of a scene from Lost In Space. The role of the patient is played by the nefarious Dr Smith. The caregiver robot is, of course, Robot from the show. As everyone knows, Robot is a Model B-9, Class M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot.