Robots put on scrubs and help out at Danish hospitals

Sterile equipment and waste are transported around hospitals and nursing homes by small mobile robots, giving more time for patients and lower costs.

Robots put on scrubs and help out at Danish hospitals
Photo: MiR

Small mobile robots from companies such as Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) cover up to 15 kilometres each day transporting equipment, food, bed linens or other necessities at hospitals in Denmark, writes

“MiR robots can take the lift, drive down corridors alongside staff and patients, avoid obstacles and open doors on their own,” the company’s CEO Thomas Visti said.

At Zealand University Hospital, staff members at the Sterile Centre load single-use equipment and sterile instruments onto carts that are subsequently transported to the hospital by robots from MiR. 

“We free up staff resources used on transport and precious square metres on storage,” the hospital’s operations manager Johnny Petersen said.

Automatization of workflows at hospitals pays for itself in four to six years, according to Thomas Strecker Leitner, market director for hospital logistics in Scandinavia at consultancy firm Rambøll, who noted previous experience in Germany and Austria.

“The cost of healthcare in Denmark is among the highest in the world, so it makes sense to save resources while also increasing quality in the final steps of the pathway to the patient by using mobile robots instead of staff having to walk back and forth to retrieve everything from depots,” Leitner said.

At Engparken nursing home in the municipality of Ikast-Brande, MiR robot Roberta helps staff conserve time and energy and avoid heavy lifting by removing waste.

Social care worker Dorthe Marinussen said that before the nursing home acquired the robot, having to leave a ward to remove waste could be problematic.

“There are quite a few dementia patients here who can grow anxious and create conflict. Now I can be present in the ward all the time, because the robot automatically removes waste,” Marinussen said.

In total, Roberta saves staff 48 minutes of waste management in the course of a shift at Engparken nursing home.

Danish Service Industries Federation director Jakob Scharff said he was pleased that the technologies have reached a maturity and price level at which it is attractive for companies to invest.

“Service companies are always on the lookout for new ways in which to optimize and improve their service to customers. Robots, automation and new technologies are drivers for development which also improves the ability of staff to complete tasks,” Scharff said.

READ ALSO: Language robots will need to 'get' Danish: regulator

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Danish government reaches agreement on ‘1,000 nurses’ plan

The government has reached agreement with health authorities on how to fulfil an election pledge to increase the number of nurses in the country’s public health system by 1,000.

Danish government reaches agreement on '1,000 nurses' plan
Photo: Linda Kastrup/Ritzau Scanpix

The government agreed with Danish Regions, the interest organisation for the country’s five regional health authorities, a deal to ensure that 1,000 more nurses will arrive in 2021, as promised in December’s budget.

500 of the nurses are to be found this year.

“The agreement means a significant and specified effort in relation to nurses at hospitals, which we will follow up to ensure that we reach the target of 1,000 more nurses,” finance minister Nicolai Wammen said.


The Danish Nurses' Organization (Dansk Sygeplejeråd) supports the deal, Ritzau reports.

The Social Democratic minority government reached in December an agreement with allied parties to provide 300 million kroner this year and 600 million kroner annually from next year to hire more nurses.

The purpose of that investment is to employ a total of 1,000 more nurses by next year, with the first 500 to be found in 2020.

Danish Regions will set in motion a number of measures aimed at achieving those objectives, including getting hospital staff to go from part-time to full-time, and all new positions being full-time.

In addition, better introductory courses will be introduced for new graduates, while practical elements of nursing degrees will be changed in an effort to reduce the drop-out rate of the programmes.

“On behalf of both patients and employees, I am pleased that this agreement ensures funding for more hands at hospitals,” Danish Regions chairperson Stephanie Lose said.

“This will improve treatment for patients and the working environment on the wards. However, recruitment is a major challenge as there is not a great deal of unemployment amongst nurses, which is also the case for other staff groups,” Lose added.

“I am therefore very pleased that we are in agreement with the professional organizations [unions, ed.] on a joint effort to get more people to go full-time, as this will also contribute to increasing workforce,” she added.