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The value of robots in daily life

Robots are welcomed at Odense University Hospital with high expectations as to their contribution to daily life at the hospital. But what happens when the new becomes everyday?

We have investigated this in CCR through a quite unscientific survey of OUH's departments with robots to uncover the influence of the robots on the daily work processes, time consumption, challenges and satisfaction.

We have been past the Department of Clinical Pathology, which in the summer of 2021 put their Automated Glass Slide Archive System robot into use. The robot registers, stores and retrieves slides with tissue, thus relieving bioanalysts and medical secretaries of the task of sorting and grouping the slides as well as archiving and retrieving them if necessary. The robot also disposes of the slides when a patient case has been completed. Chief physician Tina Green is well satisfied with the new colleague: "The archiving robot has freed up significant time for bioanalysts and medical secretaries on a daily basis, and the task of sorting and archiving the test tubes has not been missed!"

A space-demanding colleague

The filing robot is difficult to miss; it is 4 metres long and 2 metres wide. And it makes noise when the robot arm rushes back and forth. Therefore, it has been necessary to shield and soundproof the work area near the robot and rethink which work tasks are carried out in the nearby areas. However, it has actually freed up space (approx. 25 m2) that was previously used to sort the slides on trays and to file them in drawer systems.

Annelise Olsen, chief bioanalyst, says: "The sorting task previously took approx. 12 hours a day, and if there was a need to retrieve a case, a medical secretary went to the archive, collected the glasses and checked that the case was complete. This could take up to 30 min. Today, the secretary requests the case via a display on the robot, after which the robot finds it within 30-60 seconds.

Overall, it is a very small proportion of the slides that need to be found afterwards, but because we never know which will need to be recovered, we had to sort everything in order to be able to find it afterwards. The robot takes care of that today”.

The archiving robot works by collecting pathology slides from the scanner rack, scanning the code on the slide and loading it together with a time stamp into the system. The robot then places the glass on a shelf in the system, where it will remain until it needs to be used again – or until it has reached its expiry date three weeks later, after which it is automatically discarded.

At the Department of Clinical Pathology, they are happy with their robot colleague and the relief it provides: "The robot has become part of our identity in the department; everyone knows it", concludes Tina Green.

Read more about the project behind the archiving robot here.