Technology in healthcare is a field with plenty of room for growth. Doctors and nurses are rapidly discovering--if they haven't already--the benefits of having mobile technology to access patient records no matter where they happen to be in the building. Robots are performing delicate surgeries with a little human help, and their incredible precision is allowing for rapid recovery times. Now, InTouch Health (News - Alert) has brought something new to the party, and the FDA has provided clearance for same: the RP-VITA Remote Presence Robot.
The RP-VITA Remote Presence Robot is a telemedicine robot, designed to allow doctors to provide patient consultations via remote. With the addition of the FDA clearance, it can now provide those patient consultations in "high-acuity environments where immediate clinical action may be required.”The clearance more specifically authorizes the RP-VITA in places like pre-operative, peri-operative, and post-surgical fields.
As for the RP-VITA itself, it combines an Auto Drive system with a user interface compressed into an iPad for easy control via remote. The RP-VITA can send back audio and video information to the remotely located doctor, and can easily access hospital networks and the like to get the bandwidth needed to send that information back. The RP-VITA also has a set of clinical capabilities so that it can handle services like TeleStroke and TeleICU, services that can be expanded with patient data--already rapidly falling into the digital realm--to make it not only much easier to deliver care remotely, but by extension much more effective.
Early word on the robot itself suggests that it should be a welcome tool in the field. The director of neurocritical care for UCLA Health System, Paul Vespa, provided some insight on the RP-VITA, saying, "RP-VITA raises the bar for acute care telemedicine solutions for patient care delivery. The Robot allows me to effortlessly follow the entire clinical workflow process, and puts me at the point of care precisely when and where I need to be. As a thought-leader in today’s challenging health care environment, we at UCLA are very pleased to have participated in the clinical development and validation of this revolutionary health care delivery platform."
Those interested in getting a firsthand look at the RP-VITA will be able to do so tomorrow at the 2013 CES (News - Alert) event, as the robot will be featured at the Digital Health Summit moderated by Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN.
Some may balk at the thought of a robotic doctor, but since the robot is controlled via a remote human, it's a great way to give that human access to a lot more patients in a short span of time. With the proper connectivity, a doctor could even theoretically base himself out of his home and do rounds via remote, coming into the hospital only as needed. This in turn reduces the amount of space hospitals need to devote to office space, which allows them to be built somewhat smaller, and in turn, operated--heating, power, water and so on--more efficiently, saving money and making care less expensive in the long run.
It may not be the perfect solution, but the RP-VITA may well be a bigger part of future medicine than some may think. This is likely to start showing up at many hospitals before too much longer has passed.
Edited by Brooke Neuman