Robots are increasingly being used in hospitals to allow critical care physicians to be in two places at once.
There are few people who need to be in two places at the same time more than physicians, and thanks to some remarkable robots known as remote presence (RP) devices doctors now have the ability. The robots are particularly useful for stroke patients where time is of the essence. They are designed to have video and sound transmitting capabilities so victims of stroke can have access to professional physician diagnoses 24/7 via teleconference. “The neuro-stroke robots allow me to diagnose and initiate treatment within those critical minutes [of stroke],” says Dr. Ignacio Carrillo-Nunez, a doctor who demonstrated one of the robots at St. Mary Medical Center of Long Beach, California.
The RP devices allow collaboration between hospital staff members and a remote physician, no matter how far apart they are located. To receive immediate feedback from a physician, the staff members simply “beam in” the physician to make him or her show up on the robot’s screen. From the video, the physician can directly diagnose the patient and suggest a course of treatment to the staff. RP devices were created by engineers at InTouch Health Inc. in Santa Barbara, California. Current versions of the device include a hand-held model that functions much like an enhanced notebook computer with Skype capability to much more complex models complete with state-of-the-art navigation systems and super high quality cameras to allow doctors to easily check vital signs such as pupil dilation. Check out the video below to see one of the robots in use at UCLA.