Automation in Healthcare: Finding A Cure for Growth

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The future of healthcare is here and now. With advancements in robotics and automation technology, leaders in medical, life sciences and pharmaceutical sectors are seeing (and hearing about) the benefits of integrating automation solutions into their business more and more. From medical procedures and patient care to medical testing and the production of pharmaceuticals, the possibilities are ready to be explored.

Like many industries, challenges continue to arise and the pressure to not only survive but stay ahead of the game is always present. In this blog post, we'll explore the latest automation solutions and advancements in healthcare as well as provide real-world applications to see these solutions in action. 

Key takeaways

  • The healthcare industry is facing significant challenges due to rising costs, labor shortages and pressure to digitize.
  • Automation has the potential to revolutionize the medical field but is still in the early stages of adoption.
  • The implementation of robotic systems is leading to significant cost savings, increased productivity and efficiency, and safer working conditions for healthcare companies.
  • Advancements in vision technology and artificial intelligence are bolstering research, testing, diagnostics, treatment plans and preventive measures.


While reports show the healthcare sector is improving—thanks to post-pandemic actions and modernization efforts—there are still significant challenges ahead. 

As healthcare leaders monitor and evaluate hospitals, health systems, research and testing facilities and warehouses, it is more crucial than ever to remain proactive and agile. This will mean finding innovative solutions to offset issues, find stability and provide high-quality care; solutions like robotic process automation (RPA), robotic arms, vision systems and artificial intelligence. Let's look at how these automation solutions can help combat three of the top challenges facing the industry.

Challenge 1: Rising costs and high inflation rates

Healthcare costs and inflation rates are going up, posing challenges for healthcare systems to meet the increasing demand for services. Despite revenue growth, expenses are outpacing any progress, leading to declining operating margins and patient care. 

These challenges have been exacerbated in recent years. This is mainly due to revenue loss from postponed or canceled procedures as well as increased expenses related to various factors. Factors like drug prices, medical equipment and supplies costs, regulatory scrutiny, labor shortages and facilities management—all of which are greatly impacting the industry.

To ensure accessible and quality healthcare, providers must prioritize financial sustainability by reducing costs, improving efficiency and diversifying revenue sources. 

Challenge 2: Labor shortages and talent retention

In addition to financial challenges, the industry is grappling with workforce shortages compounded by an aging population. These factors can put even more pressure on resources and impact patients' access to care.
It's anticipated that the healthcare sector will continue to experience a shortage of physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals, thereby putting additional strain on the healthcare system. Along with that, stagnation of salaries and inflation is leading to talent hopping around more, both domestically and internationally. Which in turn causes issues with having to re-onboard staff and maintain consistency across projects, facilities and processes.
Leaders must address these challenges and implement proactive measures to stay competitive and ensure quality care. 

Challenge 3: Digital transformation and digitizing the value chain

Pharmaceutical is one sector within healthcare experiencing major growth, fueled by the rising demand for healthcare services and advancements in medical technology. 

Companies are investing more in research and development, with a focus on rare diseases and personalized medicine. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored just how important this funding is in addressing global health crises, with companies swiftly developing and distributing vaccines. 

Companies are also embracing new technologies, from AI to wearables to other automation solutions. This “digital transformation” is revolutionizing pharmaceutical operations, enhancing efficiency, data collection and patient outcomes. By leveraging data analytics and artificial intelligence, companies can analyze large amounts of data to identify trends and garner insights that inform decision-making and drug development. This approach is opening doors for new treatments and value-based care, leading to improved outcomes and cost savings.


Did you know the global medical robots market is projected to reach $12.7 billion by 2025? 

From robotic-assisted operations to rehabilitation support and bot-pills, robotics in healthcare is only starting to gain wider notice and adoption—even though physicians have thought about using machines in healthcare as far back as 1985. 

The use of robotics in healthcare can improve precision, safety and efficiency while reducing costs and recovery time for patients. As technology advances and more robots are developed specifically for medical purposes, the potential for improving healthcare outcomes will only continue to grow.

Here are some examples of robotic and automation solutions you can find in healthcare today:

Service robots

Service robots are becoming increasingly prevalent in medical settings, providing support for various tasks such as delivery, disinfection and patient care (at home and in the hospital). These robots play a vital role in minimizing infection risks, enhancing efficiency and improving the overall patient experience. 

With their ability to perform physically demanding tasks and offer personalized assistance, service robots are transforming the medical field and alleviating some of the pressure piling up on healthcare workers and leaders. 

Collaborative robots

Unlike traditional industrial robots, collaborative robots are specifically created to work alongside humans, creating a safer and more productive environment. These robots typically handle routine tasks to speed up work, boost efficiency and provide staff with more opportunities to focus on skilled work. This is why they are transforming the healthcare industry, helping to cut costs, improve care and alleviate heavy workloads.

Leading healthcare companies have seen significant savings and productivity increases, as well as improved employee satisfaction and a reduction in work injuries, since implementing collaborative robotic technology. This trend is only expected to continue as more companies adopt this automation solution and see the real impact it can have on the healthcare industry—and its bottom line. 

Machine vision and imaging 

Combining robotics and machine vision is advancing the life sciences field of healthcare—from scientific and commercial research to testing, diagnostics and treatment plans. According to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3),  “robotic systems have the ability to pipette a 96 well plate in 20 seconds without making a mistake or having to take a break.”

The addition of vision technology allows these robotic systems to identify materials or specimens in medical research that need to be removed or noted. New image sensor technologies can also provide ultra-high resolutions, faster frame rates and specialized RGB-NIR (near-infrared) color filter arrays for highly detailed captures and analysis.

Embedded vision technology 

Similar to the above section on machine vision and imaging, advancements in embedded vision technology are unlocking the potential of the medical field. While widely adopted in industries like automotive and security, healthcare is in the earlier stages of adoption. However, this technology is bound to gain a larger following as it becomes more affordable and the benefits to patients and providers alike are more visible.

One major advantage of embedded vision in healthcare is its ability to process high-resolution images in real-time. When it comes to medical imaging, it enables physicians and researchers to detect, study, diagnose and plan treatment without needing invasive procedures or the use of contrast dye. Current applications using this tech include breast cancer detection, blood count testing, diagnosis of skin ailments and degenerative diseases, and so many more.

Embedded vision technology is also gaining traction in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries for quality control, process optimization and safety assurance. It helps to identify and rectify potential issues before they escalate, leading to cost savings and increased efficiency. Additionally, it can help companies stay compliant with industry regulations and standards through close monitoring.

Artificial intelligence

AI is playing a significant role in transforming the healthcare industry (and almost every industry), especially when it comes to diagnosis, treatment and research. It has already enabled breakthroughs in drug and disease discovery and prevention—and it’s only the beginning.

A big area where AI comes into play is in enhancing the intelligence of machine vision and robotics systems by enabling them to learn and adapt, improving performance and versatility. This allows for increased accuracy and consistency in identifying defects or anomalies in production lines or research.
While the benefits of AI in healthcare are vast and undeniable, there are still potential risks and ethical concerns for providers to keep in mind. That’s why it’s important to understand the impacts on patient privacy, accuracy of data and how to properly train staff when leveraging this technology.


According to Fact.MR, a competitive intelligence and market research provider, the global healthcare automation market was valued at $38.6 billion in 2023 and is expected to reach $94 billion by the end of 2033.

As the healthcare industry continues to navigate mounting pressures and evolving challenges, the benefits of robotics and automation will only gain more and more allure—and value. And as leaders evaluate their infrastructure, expenditures and processes, digitization and automation will be the way forward. 
Humanoid robots and nanobots may not be the near-term options. But today’s solutions like robotics, vision systems and AI hold the keys to balancing labor issues, enhancing production capabilities, connecting hospitals, gaining more insights and improving patient care.

If you’re ready to see what’s new and what’s next in industrial automation for the healthcare industry, then be sure to check out Automate, the largest showcase of automation solutions in North America. With over 800 exhibitors from around the world, you can see, touch and learn about the robotics, AI, vision and motion control solutions advancing healthcare. Register—for FREE—today!

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