Perspectives June 2017 | Youth Hong Kong
Looking to the Future
Medical technology and the human touch
xperts point to the potential of Hong Kongâ€™s world-class universities for the development of robotics. However, while recognizing this and observing surgical robots at work, medical intern Benjamin Lui says that the human touch of doctors is irreplaceable. Imagine a sci-fi horror scene: an innocent man, tied to a table, screaming desperately while knives held by cold, lifeless robots are approaching him from aboveâ€Ś. Believe it or not, such robots could be doing their job in a Hong Kong surgical theatre right now. Surgical robotics are an essential part of state-of-the-art surgery. But in reality, our patient would be anaesthetized and the robots would be controlled by a skilled surgeon nearby. While our own hands are an incredible natural gift, robotic hands and arms allow more precise movements and can eliminate much of the shakiness of natural hands, going deep into spaces unreachable by real hands and able to remove so many cancers previously deemed inoperable.
As a medical student observing the use of surgical robots via live broadcasts in the operating theatre, I appreciate the fineness of the procedures. The surgeon uses his or her hands and feet on joysticks and pedals almost like a video game player at first glance. Nevertheless, to navigate tools deep inside a human body through a robotic arm, the doctor needs excellent hand-foot coordination that takes hours and hours of practice on models to perfect. However, this is not cutting-edge medical robotics. That is in the realm of artificial intelligence (AI) and IBM Watson Health offers such services. Like the fictional Doctor Watson, IBM Watson is a detective. Its strengths are in data organization and analysis and it can build a complete picture from concrete information such as investigation results as well as data on general health status.