The use of robotics is becoming widespread in healthcare. However, little is known about how robotics can affect the relationship with patients in epidemic emergency response or how it impacts clinicians in their organization and work. As a hospital responding to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic “ASST dei Sette Laghi” (A7L) in Varese, Italy, had to react quickly to protect its staff from infection while coping with high budgetary pressure as prices of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) increased rapidly. In response, it introduced six semi-autonomous robots to mediate interactions between staff and patients. Thanks to the cooperation of multiple departments, A7L implemented the solution in less than 10 weeks. It reduced risks to staff and outlay for PPE. However, the characteristics of the robots affected their perception by healthcare staff. This case study reviews critical issues faced by A7L in introducing these devices and recommendations for the path forward.
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