The robot stands five feet four inches in height, has a battery life of about four to five hours, and allows a doctor to communicate with patients through a video screen at the top of the robot. A smaller screen below the live-interaction interface provides information to the patient about the doctor administering care.
Integration of InTouch Health's SureConnect platform, a cloud-based network infrastructure with advanced data encryption, allows for Internet-based audio and video connectivity from virtually anywhere to RP-VITA, Wright said. Through its WiFi support, the robot also can access live patient data from electronic medical records to provide physicians with up-to-date information about a patient's vital signs, lab results, and imaging date. Futhermore, it hooks up to diagnostic devices to allow a doctor, through the help of a nurse present in the room, remotely examine a patient, he added.
All of these provide a realistic patient-care experience that in some cases can even be enhanced by the robot's advanced connectivity, said Knight. "I can get data I never had over the phone," he said. "There's never been one time I've used it and said, 'That was a waste of time.' I always see something I wouldn't have otherwise."
Knight said RP-VITA's ease of use also breaks down the technological wall that can be an obstacle with telepresence solutions and allows him to "forget about the technology and just focus on the clinical needs at hand."
InTouch is currently marketing and selling the robot, which should start appearing in hospitals by the end of the year at a cost of about $6,000 a month. The company and iRobot also plan to make design improvements to future versions of RP-VITA, including a feature that will be added by the end of the year to allow a remote physician or bedside nurse to send the robot to a target destination with a single click, Wright said. Advanced communication capabilities to provide coordination among a team of physicians using RP-VITA also will be added down the line.
Several robots for providing at-home medical care are in the works, based on a somewhat similar design platform as this one. That platform is iRobot's Ava mobile robot design: http://www.irobot.com/ava/
They put a similar thing into one of the area ICU's (I think) in the Milwaukee area. While it wasn't anywhere close to being as advanced as the system described here, I thought it was a good start. The primary advantage is that the more experienced doctor could keep an eye on patients in other locations rather than having to transfer everybody to the "mother ship".
With a software upgrade Stanley could remember to provide your medicine when you were sick or bring you the thermometer if you had a fever. The sky's the limit.
Stanley currently doesn't speak or recognize voice commands but could be equipped with an automatic weapon in case your house is burglarized.
@Robatnorcross: You're going to have to explain what you mean by the house cleaning comments. Is that because we're talking about a robot?
The reality is, the days of doctors doing house calls are far in the past. I'm 50 and my dad was a doctor in a semi-rural town and I can tell you that was never part of the lexicon even back then, whether for good or bad. Unfortunately, it's just not realistic in today's society. That said, I guess I'm for any kind of video/robotics/information technology that can streamline the process just a little bit for routine tasks and consultations, freeing up the docs so they can spend quality time with patients whose cases are more acute.
Ok - I'm fine with technology and think robots are cool - but so much of good medicine is about the ability to "read" a patient and establish trust as a physician. When the face on the screen says "take your medicine" it's just another commercial. Doctors should be walking the halls, popping in on patients and sharing chance encounters with nurses who can give the Dr. a quick 30 second update on the patient in 203. Human interaction is healing, too.
I remember our family doctor visiting our home when one of us kids was sick. Talk about bedside manner. But I like this robot idea. This has got to be more efficient than our current system. At a time of ever escalating medical costs, it's nice to see some efficiency introduced.
Beth, You bring up a good point regarding doctor-patience relationship and beside manner. Today's doctors in residence are being scrutinized for their beside manner. Being impersonal with a patient makes it difficult to address their medical needs. Not quite sure how telespresence technology will address this since the doctor will not physically be in the room with the patient. Body lanaguage plays an important role in treating patience.
Actually, Elizabeth has to take credit for this one, Mrdon, but I agree it was a real interesting post.
I like Chuck's parallel to the trend of Physician Assistants doing more of the early interviewing and upfront examination work. I am seeing that with the doctors we see as a family. Although from a personal standpoint, I can't help but think I'd feel the doctor was somewhat detached if I wasn't interacting with them directly and doing so via remote telepresence technology. Maybe not for a routine examination, but certainly for something with more serious ramifications.
I can see this medical technology being used in a limited way for the emergency room. Less critical cases can be addressed by a telepresence robot, thereby alleviating the long wait time in emergency room. Great article Beth!
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
In a bid to boost the viability of lithium-based electric car batteries, a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a chemistry that could possibly double an EV’s driving range while cutting its battery cost in half.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.