Robots. We have now reached a level of technology that seemed like science fiction as recently as the dawn of the 20th century. From washing cars to packaging food, they are present everywhere in our daily life in support of human activity, even reaching as far afield as medicine in helping surgeons operate on patients.
Nevertheless, if humans and robots are to work together in harmony, there is still progress to be made. Loredana Zollo is a specialist in using robotics for medical applications. “In the field of collaborative robots, I think the main challenge is to enable effective communication between humans and machines in terms of physical and cognitive interaction and communication,” she explains.
She says that Journal of Healthcare Engineering, of which she is Chief Editor, aims to help the field move further in that direction. The journal aims to support the development of human-machine interfaces by highlighting and publishing leading research in this area.
Over the past few decades, the sector has moved on in leaps and bounds. From relatively simple, functional objects to neuro-responsive tools that encompass virtual reality and wearable systems, machines which use artificial intelligence are here to stay. There are so many new breakthroughs that it is almost hard to keep up.
“Cyber-physical systems, big data, sensor networks and Internet of Things, collaborative robotics, medically-assisted machines: there are so many ideas, solutions and applications to the robotic and healthcare field,” explains Loredana. “Humans and robots are getting closer and closer to one another, working hand-in-hand in industry but also in domestic settings. It is crucial that we improve human-machine interfaces and, therefore, communication between what is artificial and what is real.”
This is where Journal of Healthcare Engineering comes into play. “Although the journal focuses on the growing development of information and communication technologies for healthcare (also including robotics), its scope is very multidisciplinary,” she adds. The journal covers all areas of engineering for healthcare applications. But it also publishes research in the healthcare sector, healthcare facilities and infrastructure, healthcare environment management, healthcare delivery systems, as well as several aspects related to healthcare policy and the social and ethical implications of healthcare technology.
“Which is why the journal is so relevant to society,” she states. “Being multidisciplinary helps convey the exchange of advanced knowledge, emerging technologies, and innovative ideas among researchers, engineers, clinicians and consultants around the world.”
Moreover, the journal aims to go beyond reporting scientific advances. Loredana describes how she hopes the journal will play a role in bringing distinct but equally important groups of people together. “I think this journal can contribute even more by bringing together two very important communities of clinicians and engineers whilst bridging the divide between researchers and clinical practice. I feel that it is an important gap to fill,” she adds.
To have as much impact as possible, Journal of Healthcare Engineering needs to reach as many people as possible. “We are planning to increase the journal’s exposure, and for this, it is very important to have a strong and trustworthy channel of communication and collaboration between the global community of healthcare researchers and the editorial team,” explains Loredana.
She hopes the journal will keep a close eye on changing perspectives and potential issues that may arise. With it, Loredana will establish effective policies so that they can support the top researchers in the field but also the journal’s reviewers. “It is also important to improve the review process to ensure fair, solid and prompt review for all submissions to ensure we publish papers of very high quality and therefore maximize the impact of the journal,” she adds.
One challenging aspect of the Editor’s role is to pin down the right reviewers. “I usually suggest finding a dozen possible candidates. So that if I don’t get replies, I have fallback options available in a reasonable timeframe,” explains Loredana.
Hindawi has recently with Publons to help improve our peer review process and reviewer experience, and address some of the challenges faced by the communities we serve.
“It is important to find ways to encourage reviewers to accept more papers to review, which will ultimately improve their quality and speed up the whole process,” she adds. “This might involve providing some incentives for reviewers.”
For Loredana, “a strong and transparent channel of collaboration with the editorial team is key to the journal’s success. It will help improve the quality of submissions, reflect emerging trends in the multidisciplinary community and also increase the journal’s scientific and social impact and visibility.”
By finding a common language between different individuals, it becomes easier to move forward together. Such harmony will serve to nourish meaningful breakthroughs in robotics and their application to healthcare.
This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). The illustration is by Hindawi and is also CC-BY.