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HAL the robot immerses medical students in a new era of teaching

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The time is now for healthcare leaders to embrace artificial intelligence. Simulation technology incorporates advanced mechanics to produce a new generation of teaching tools to form the future generation of doctors. As a benefit of the digital transformation of healthcare, these technological breakthroughs can address the present shortage of doctors and medical personnel.

Following the robot mom giving birth to a robot baby, and a newborn robot that helps nurses understand more about infant illnesses, HAL is the newest addition to the robotic family helping medical students acquire experience. Entering a new era of medical training, medical students will learn how to treat children on HAL.

HAL, a robot that looks and reacts like a 5-year-old boy would, is being used to train medical staff.

According to wired.com, HAL can cry fake tears, bleed fake blood, has a pulse, and its heart can be monitored by hooking it to machines when it experiences a cardiac arrest. Students can perform many medical procedures and tests on it. The robot has been created by Gaumard Scientific, a company that has been building teaching simulators for hospitals and schools since the 1940s.

HAL costs at least $48,000 and is a really special piece of engineering. It breathes and exhales CO2, having mechanical and pneumatic systems to help with that. It also has motors to help put expressions on its face to signify it is angry scared, happy etc.

HAL has a functioning nose and mouth, and can shout for his mother or demand not to be touched.  It was created to help students react to sick children, who can’t always tell what is wrong, but are often able to transmit that information through facial expressions.

Trainers and trainees alike should not forget that, while being an extraordinary teaching tool, HAL is only a machine, and not a teacher. It can’t teach how overwhelming emotions and stress in medicine are – only humans are able to that.

“Maybe one day machines will be so sophisticated they’ll be able to interpret our emotions and replicate our emotions,” says Lillian Su, medical director for simulation at the Heart Center of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.  “But until then, we as the humans have to control that part and know how to use the machine so we can train people in that kind of environment.”      

“I think that’s going to add an emotional layer, a challenge that we as educators have to be prepared for,” Su adds.

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