Danish hospitals show great interest in TUG

Lars  Dalgaard

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Danish hospitals show great interest in TUG

Representatives of hospitals from all over Denmark turned out in strengths at Danish Technological Institute, Robot Technology's event, which focused on the opportunity for usage of TUG at Danish hospitals. The event was held on November 27 in connection with European Robotics Week, and the participants agreed: TUG or other similar AGVs will drive around at Danish hospitals within 5 to 10 years.

TUG has already moved in at the Danish hospital, Sygehus Sønderjylland, where the logistics robot is going to be tested in a 9 month project process, which will clarify whether or not TUG can be used for optimizing logistics at Danish hospitals. With this project, which is managed by Sygehus Sønderjylland and Danish Technological Institute, Robot Technology, the interest in the opportunities for implementing transport robots at Danish hospitals has increased, and the participants showed great excitement as TUG independently threaded its way through the group of people in the Institute's large robot demonstration hall and took the elevator up to the first floor. After the demonstration, the day offered exciting presentations as well as a debate about the usage of transport robots, where, among others, Asim Ikram, Project Manager, Danish Technological Institute, Robot Technology and Søren Aggestrup, Medical Manager, Sygehus Sønderjylland answered the participants' questions. Read more about TUG and the project here.

There is a need for transport robots
During the debate, the participants quickly reached an agreement about the need for transport robots. To fetch and carry blood samples, linen, waste or something along those lines have a strong presence in the daily life at Danish hospitals, and is very time consuming to the staff. Furthermore, on the basis of the economic and demographic development in today's Denmark, there are fewer employees per patient. However, by letting TUG or other AGVs manage the simple transport tasks and making the logistics more efficient, the staff can spend their time on performing the tasks they are educated to do: "Fetching and carrying operation instruments, linen, blood samples etc. is something that the staff spend a lot of time on. Of course it depends on the department how much it influences their daily life, but it is something that we see a great interest in improving", said Klaus Veng, Project Manager Innovation, MedTech Innovation Center. And this statement was supported by Rune Klausen Larsen, Business Development Manager, Danish Technological Institute, Robot Technology: "It is not about where or how we meet the logistics robots because it will happen, so it is all about when we meet them".

The new Danish super hospitals are an exclusive opportunity
When the question about when TUG or other AGVs are going to be implemented at Danish hospitals was asked, it did not take long for the participants to agree on the right time. It is infrequent that the Danish hospital service implements such significant changes, but with the new super hospitals that the Danish government is going to build, a unique chance for testing the new technologies are to be found: "I really hope that the new technologies will be taken into use and that we experience a great expansion of the technologies at Danish hospitals. The old hospitals consist of a high number of floors, and here I'm a little skeptical. However, the new buildings are going to be flat with few floors and broad hallways, and here TUG completely fits", said Gitte Antonisen, CSSD Manager, Herlev Hospital.

Today, many Danish departments function as an 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. working place, where one often has to wait until the next day to get his or her examination done. With the new super hospitals, Denmark will experience new tendencies which TUG has the opportunity to be part of: "We need to get the 24/7 way of thinking implemented at the new super hospitals, and there I see great potential in help from logistics robots as they also work at night", said Søren Aggestrup.

But testing TUG is necessary
Today, more than 400 TUGs drive around at hospitals in USA, and therefore the TUG-system is already a well-tested concept. However, as the TUG at Sygehus Sønderjylland is the first one in Denmark, it is necessary to clarify how it performs at Danish hospitals.

Peter Seiff, Vice President at the American company Aethon, who participated in the event by use of telepresence, told that TUG is not only designed to drive around in new constructions contrary to other AGVs. Actually, a great number of the TUGs that already drive around at American hospitals are used in elder buildings, and this is also why the test of TUG at Sygehus Sønderjylland is going to be in an elder building.

Even though the participants expressed a great interest in TUG, the debate was characterized by a certain skepticism with the new transport robot. The concern was about the speed of TUG's deliveries for instance in relation to deliveries that have to be used here-and-now, and this is also one of the things that Danish Technological Institute, Robot Technology and Sygehus Sønderjylland want to investigate during the next months: "We are going to find out how things work best with TUG, all the way down at employee level. It has to be tested so that we can assure that this is something which can be used at Danish Hospitals", said Søren Aggestrup.

However, neither Sygehus Sønderjylland or Danish Technological Institute doubt that the project is going to be a great success.

You now get the opportunity to follow the project
In connection with the project process, Sygehus Sønderjylland and Danish Technological Institute, Robot Technology gave the participants an opportunity to join a focus group, where they will be informed about the different experiences and results with TUG during the next couple of months. Here, the participants will have the opportunity to come up with great ideas for the use of TUG or ask questions, so that everyone gets as much out of the project as possible. If you want to join the focus group, please contact , Søren Peter Johansen, Technology Manager at Danish Technological Institute, Robot Technology. 

In the spring, the Institute will arrange a similar event, where all the new experiences with TUG will be presented and debated.

TUG will be fully implemented at Sygehus Sønderjylland within shot time. In this connection, an opening event will be held at Aabenraa hospital in the beginning of December.