InTouch Companion: Medical Rounding Robot

InTouch Health is now leasing a remote-controlled medical telepresence robot called The Companion to hospitals and nursing homes nationwide. The 200 pound robots stand about five feet tall and have computer screens for "heads"; they are controlled remotely by physicians with a wireless broadband Internet connection, the right software and a joystick control.


(From Robotic doctor makes the rounds at Oakwood)

Rounding Robots Save Time

The purpose of the "rounding robots" is to allow physicians who admit patients to widely separated medical centers to be able to round (that is, visit or provide a consultation to) their patients without having to waste hours of travel time in their cars. Patients can see their own doctor and speak with him or her in real time; the physicians can also see and hear their patients.

The robot can travel about 2 miles per hour; a safety mechanism uses infrared warning sensors to keep the robot from bumping into people and objects. InTouch leases them for about $3,000 per month, which includes hardware, software and support.

See the medical mantis from Peter Watts Starfish for a taste of how a medical telefactoring experience might work.

Most Patients Are Comfortable with Rounding Robots

See also the story Patients happy with robo-doc which details a Johns Hopkins study on the use of this technology; 57% of patients thought they felt comfortable with "telerounding" and 50% preferred a telerounding visit from their own physician to a visit from a real doctor they didn't know. Read more about medical telepresence techologies at The Medical Telepresence Tour.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/9/2004)

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