Human Factors Testing in Surgical Robots

Human Factors Testing is vital to the product design life cycle, but it is especially important to complex surgical robot design, owing to the fact that robotic surgical procedures involve both human and robotic interaction. As with any surgery, uncontrolled or unwanted motion is an inherent risk, either by robot or human hand. However, when dealing with humans and surgical robots in the same procedure, the risk can be magnified. One would think we would be more at ease with robotic surgical procedures, when studies show a surgeon’s hand is stable to roughly 100 microns, while a surgical robot is stable to roughly 25 microns, however we are reliant on the device design.

In most cases, surgical robots are designed to mimic human hands, yet they still require human interaction to pre-program a surgical procedure, or a surgeon actually controls the surgical robot during the procedure. In either scenario, the devices and interfaces that have been designed properly with a Human Factors approach will be more intuitive and natural for the surgeon to operate, while providing increased precision and safety throughout the procedure. This directly translates into more efficient procedures, cost savings for the hospitals and most importantly, better outcomes for the patient. The ultimate goal is to bring more success to robotic surgical procedures by incorporating human factors testing into device design.


Risks & Benefits of Surgical Robotic Devices

As with any surgery, an inherent risk is uncontrolled or unwanted motion, either by the robot or the human hand. Naturally, when dealing with humans and robots in the same procedure, the risk can be magnified. One would think we would be more at ease with robotic surgical procedures, when studies show a surgeon’s hand is stable to roughly 100 microns, while a surgical robot is stable to roughly 25 microns, however we are still reliant on the device design. Many medical robots today are built to the strictest of standards in order to guarantee quality control. Overall, assurance of patient safety should always be the top priority in medical device design, which is why Human Factors Testing should be considered during device design.