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Most patients would allow robots to operate on them

Survey by Porsche Consulting shows positive response to automation at hospitals.

“Digitization in Healthcare” study: Would you allow a robot to operate on you? Source/graphic: Porsche Consulting.
“Digitization in Healthcare” study: Would you allow a robot instead of a human to provide you with old-age care? Source/graphic: Porsche Consulting.
“Digitization in Healthcare” study: May my medical records be stored on my health-insurance chip card? Source/graphic: Porsche Consulting.
When the vision becomes reality: Robots take over the OR as fully automated surgeons. Illustration: Porsche Consulting/Jan Rieckhoff

Stuttgart. Three out of four people in Germany would have no objection to being operated on by a robot instead of a surgeon at hospitals. This is one result of a representative survey from the Porsche Consulting management consultancy. Forty-one percent of respondents linked their “yes” to this question to the condition that the risk associated with the procedure would be lower when performed by a robot than by a doctor. Twenty-three percent of people in Germany reject the use of medical robots.

People in Germany are similarly open to the idea of using robots to provide old-age care. Lifting patients out of bed, dispensing medications, delivering food and drinks – typical tasks done by caregivers could soon also be performed by computer-controlled robots. Fifty-six percent of respondents would allow caregiving services to be provided by machines. As part of the study, Porsche Consulting examined the reasons for this position. A shortage of qualified caregiving personnel would prompt 37 percent of respondents to accept a robot caregiver. And 36 percent would accept a robot if that would enable them to stay at home and avoid having to move to a caregiving facility. Additional reasons for robot care include the possibility of round-the-clock service (29%) and potential cost benefits vis-à-vis human providers (21%). Forty-four percent of respondents reject robot care in general.

Digitized medical care requires access to all the necessary data. That hardly seems to pose a problem from the patient’s perspective. Seventy-one percent of respondents in Germany would immediately agree to having their complete medical records stored on their health-insurance chip card, for example. This large group would also have no objection to making the data available to other physicians or to their own health insurance company. Two-thirds of this group would link their consent to the understandable condition that their data would be treated confidentially.

“Within three to five years, digitization will have reached a point where robots could assume a wide range of tasks in medicine and caregiving,” says Dr. Roman Hipp, a partner at Porsche Consulting in charge of the healthcare sector. He notes that “advanced developments in medical technology have been helping to treat and care for people for a long time now,” and adds that there is already an astonishing level of acceptance on the part of patients. Now what is needed is for hospitals and caregiving facilities to create the organizational conditions for greater digitization. As Hipp observes, “If doctors and nurses can be relieved of having to perform routine activities, this could reduce shortages and crisis situations in the healthcare sector.”

Headquartered in Bietigheim-Bissingen, Porsche Consulting GmbH is a subsidiary of the Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG. Founded in 1994 with a team of four, it currently employs more than 400 people. An internationally active company with four international subsidiaries of its own in Milan, São Paulo, Atlanta, and Shanghai, it is one of Germany’s leading management consultancies. Following the principle of “strategic vision, smart implementation,” its experts advise large corporations and medium-sized companies worldwide in the automotive, aviation and aerospace, and mechanical and plant engineering industries. Clients also come from the financial services, consumer goods, retail, and construction sectors.

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Basis: Porsche Consulting commissioned Forsa to carry out this Germany-wide, representative survey of 1,000 people (period: April 24 to 27; systematic random selection).