Robots in Healthcare? What Patients Say

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In this paper, we analyse patients’ perspectives on the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic systems in healthcare. Based on citizens’ experiences when hospitalised for COVID‐ 19, we explore how the opinions and concerns regarding healthcare automation could not be disas-sociated from a context of high pressure on the health system and lack of resources, and a political discourse on AI and robotics; a situation intensified by the pandemic. Thus, through the analysis of a set of interviews, a series of issues are identified that revolve around the following: the empirical effects of imagined robots, the vivid experience of citizens with the care crisis, the discomfort of the ineffective, the virtualised care assemblages, the human‐based face‐to‐face relationships, and the automatisation of healthcare tasks. In light of these results, we show the variability in patients’ perspectives on AI and robotic systems and explain it by distinguishing two interpretive repertoires that account for different views and opinions: a well‐being repertoire and a responsibility repertoire. Both interpretative repertoires are relevant in order to grasp the complexity of citizens’ approaches to automatisation of healthcare. Attending to both allows us to move beyond the dominant (politi-cal) discourse of technology markets as the only way to respond to healthcare challenges. Thus, we can analyse and integrate patients’ perspectives to develop AI and robotic systems in healthcare to serve citizens’ needs and collective well‐being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9933
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2021


  • Artificial intelligence
  • COVID‐19
  • Care crisis
  • Ethics of care
  • Interpretative repertoires
  • Patients’ perspectives
  • Robots
  • Science and technology studies


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