Mobile Robots in Healthcare: Does your hospital have AGVs?

Mobile Robot in HospitalA new, specialized Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) called the Autonomous Mobile Robot is beginning to capture the interest of healthcare facilities. Targeted to healthcare applications, these self-guided robots or autonomous delivery robot can be used in a healthcare setting to move materials throughout a hospital. AGVs were originally developed for industrial applications. More recently, beginning in the early 2000s, they have been designed to transport hospital materials like meals, linen, drugs, laboratory specimens, waste and other medical supplies.

These systems are seen as a means to free hospital employees to spend the maximum amount of their time directly on patient care. They also appear to improve hospital safety by minimizing the potential for on the job injuries. In addition, mobile robots can track all material movements and can prioritize jobs so that the most important tasks can be completed by hospital workers.

Areas where robots have been successful are Pharmacy, Laboratory, Food Services, Environmental Services and Linen. However, robots can be adapted to the delivery of any hospital-wide light load. Their applications can be tailored to any existing healthcare facility but they are of special interest in the initial design of new a facility since it is considerably easier to incorporate an AGV during this time as compared to the changes that need to be made to an existing hospital’s design.MD Buyline is seeing activity for AGVs in both existing and new hospital designs.

The two major competitors in this space are Aethon and Swisslog and they appear to compose 90% of the healthcare market. The rest of the market is composed of various new players in this space like Egemin Automation. The graph below depicts current MD Buyline activity for these vendors.

Automated Guided Vehicles

Do AGVs have a place in your facility? They likely do, but justifying cost over benefit can be a tremendous task. MD Buyline has seen the cost of AVGs fall somewhere in the range of $40,000 to $100,000 per vehicle. For more information on AVGs or to help on other projects, please contact myself or any other MD Buyline analyst.

Dennis Matricardi, MS, SM(ASCP)DLM
ABOUT THIS EXPERT
Dennis Matricardi, MS, SM(ASCP)DLM, Clinical Analyst — At MD Buyline, Mr. Matricardi is responsible for laboratory and pharmacy. He has over 30 years of hospital-based laboratory experience with a strong specialization in infectious disease and experience running microbiology and infection control programs. Mr. Matricardi received his Bachelor of Science in microbiology from Ohio State University and Master of Science in management/health systems administration from the University of Akron. He is registered by the American Society of Clinical Pathology as a Specialist in Microbiology and a Diplomat in Laboratory Management.