BACKGROUND: Society is facing a global shortage of 17 million health care workers, along with increasing health care demands from a growing number of older adults. Social robots are being considered as solutions to part of this problem.
OBJECTIVE: Our objective is to evaluate the quality of care perceived by patients and caregivers for an integrated care pathway in an outpatient clinic using a social robot for patient-reported outcome measure (PROM) interviews versus the currently used professional interviews.
METHODS: A multicenter, two-parallel-group, nonblinded, randomized controlled trial was used to test for noninferiority of the quality of care delivered through robot-assisted care. The randomization was performed using a computer-generated table. The setting consisted of two outpatient clinics, and the study took place from July to December 2019. Of 419 patients who visited the participating outpatient clinics, 110 older patients met the criteria for recruitment. Inclusion criteria were the ability to speak and read Dutch and being assisted by a participating health care professional. Exclusion criteria were serious hearing or vision problems, serious cognitive problems, and paranoia or similar psychiatric problems. The intervention consisted of a social robot conducting a 36-item PROM. As the main outcome measure, the customized Consumer Quality Index (CQI) was used, as reported by patients and caregivers for the outpatient pathway of care.
RESULTS: In total, 75 intermediately frail older patients were included in the study, randomly assigned to the intervention and control groups, and processed: 36 female (48%) and 39 male (52%); mean age 77.4 years (SD 7.3), range 60-91 years. There was no significant difference in the total patient CQI scores between the patients included in the robot-assisted care pathway (mean 9.27, SD 0.65, n=37) and those in the control group (mean 9.00, SD 0.70, n=38): P=.08, 95% CI -0.04 to 0.58. There was no significant difference in the total CQI scores between caregivers in the intervention group (mean 9.21, SD 0.76, n=30) and those in the control group (mean 9.09, SD 0.60, n=35): P=.47, 95% CI -0.21 to 0.46. No harm or unintended effects occurred.
CONCLUSIONS: Geriatric patients and their informal caregivers valued robot-assisted and nonrobot-assisted care pathways equally.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03857789; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03857789.
- Integrated care pathway
- Noninferiority randomized controlled trial
- Quality of care
- Social robot