Most Shared

BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

Health News

Health News

 
text size

Robots let doctors 'beam' into remote hospitals

Updated: Monday, November 18 2013, 08:47 AM CST

CARMICHAEL, Calif. (AP) -- The doctor isn't in, but he can still see you now.

Remote presence robots are allowing physicians to "beam" themselves into hospitals to diagnose patients and offer medical advice during emergencies.

A growing number of hospitals in California and other states are using telepresence robots to expand access to medical specialists, especially in rural areas where there's a shortage of doctors.

These mobile video-conferencing machines move on wheels and typically stand about 5 feet, with a large screen that projects a doctor's face. They feature cameras, microphones and speakers that allow physicians and patients to see and talk to each other.

Dignity Health, which runs Arizona, California and Nevada hospitals, began using the telemedicine machines five years ago to diagnose patients suspected of suffering strokes - when every minute is crucial to prevent serious brain damage.

The San Francisco-based health care provider now uses the telemedicine robots in emergency rooms and intensive-care units at about 20 California hospitals, giving them access to specialists in areas such as neurology, cardiology, neonatology, pediatrics and mental health.

"Regardless of where the patient is located, we can be at their bedside in several minutes," said Dr. Alan Shatzel, medical director of the Mercy Telehealth Network. "Literally, we compress time and space with this technology. No longer does distance affect a person's ability to access the best care possible."

Dignity Health is one of several hospital chains that recently began using RP-VITA, which was jointly developed by InTouch Health and iRobot Corp. It's approved for hospital use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"Hospitals are now using this type of technology in order to leverage the specialists that they have even better and more efficiently," said Dr. Yulun Wang, CEO of Santa Barbara-based InTouch Health.

Nearly 1,000 hospitals in the U.S. and abroad have installed InTouch telemedicine devices, including about 50 RP-VITA robots launched in May, according to company officials. The company rents out the RP-VITA for $5,000 per month.

When a doctor is needed at a remote hospital location, he can log into the RP-VITA on-site by using a computer, laptop or iPad. The robot has an auto-drive function that allows it to navigate its way to the patient's room, using sensors to avoid bumping into things or people.

Once inside the hospital room, the doctor can see, hear and speak to the patient, and have access to clinical data and medical images. The physician can't touch the patient, but there is always a nurse or medical assistant on-site to assist.

On a recent morning, Dr. Asad Chaudhary, a stroke specialist at Dignity Health, beamed into a robot at the neuro-intensive care unit at Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael to evaluate Linda Frisk, a patient who recently had a stroke.

With his face projected on the robot screen, Chaudhary asked Frisk to smile, open and close her eyes, make a fist and lift her arms and legs - common prompts to test a patient's neurological functioning.

"If you develop any weakness, any numbness, any problem with your speech or anything else, let us know right away," Chaudhary told Frisk before the robot turned around and left the room.

"It's just like being with the patient in the room," Chaudhary said. "Of course, nothing can replace seeing these patients in person, but it's the next best thing."

Frisk, 60, who was flown into the hospital for treatment, said she was surprised when she first saw the robot, but quickly got used to the doctor's virtual presence.

"You feel like he was right there," said Frisk, who lives near Merced. "Although I am a little spoiled and like to see him in person."Robots let doctors 'beam' into remote hospitals


Advertise with us!

Health Watch

  [ - ] Video Stories Only  [ - ] Text Stories Only  [ + ] Show All

ABC National Health News

Dallas Conjoined Twins Head to Rehab
The Ezell twins, formerly conjoined, are now happy, healthy and heading to rehab.
Dangers of Vaccine Hesitancy Explained in 10 Tweets
Many parents hesitate to vaccinate their children because of safety concerns.
Team Hoyt to Run Last Boston Marathon
Dick and Rick Hoyt are 74 and 52 years old and want to slow down.
No Shots, No School Amid Ohio Mumps Outbreak
At least 224 people in Franklin and Delaware counties have contracted the virus.
Girl Mauled by Raccoon Gets New Ear
Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate will pull a piece of the girl's rib and mold it into the shape of an ear and put that inside her forearm to grow. Eight weeks later, they will remove it and attach it to her ear.
Mom Whose Child Died After Catching Chicken Pox Advocates for Vaccines
Does vaccine refusal and hesitancy put everyone at risk for diseases?
Pregnancy Weight Has 'Goldilocks Effect' on Baby's Obesity Risk
Find out the impact of gaining too much or too little weight during pregnancy.
How the Polar Vortex Could Create a Pollen Vortex
Why the Polar Vortex may lead to a terrible allergy season.
Health Dept Takes Man With Tuberculosis to Court
Health officials fear he'll exposure others.
Girl With Cerebral Palsy Gets Hospital Visit From Boyfriend
Watch India Brainard's face light up when she sees her boyfriend, Daniel.
New Technology 'Grows' Man-Made Body Parts
A look at the new technology that let's doctors "grow" body parts in the lab.
New NHL Lawsuit Is the Most Graphic Yet
A new lawsuit that accuses the NHL of putting profits before safety is littered with images of bloodied, toothless hockey players.
Researchers Find Google Glass Can Help Parkinson's Patients
As rumors swirl about Google Glass finally being available to the public, the device is already being examined for use as a daily aid for people with Parkinson’s disease.
Heart Recipient Honors 21-Year-Old Donor
Susan Vieira is trying to complete heart donor's bucket list.
Why Your Spouse May Be 'Hangry' for a Fight
The link between marital discord and hunger pangs.
Watch: Heart Recipient Honors 21-Year-Old Donor
Susan Vieira, 64, made a promise to fulfill Kristina Chesterman's bucket list.
Watch: Boy, 11, Wants Amputation But Is 'Nervous'
Amit Vigoda, who has a painful and rare orthopedic condition, opts for life-changing surgery.
Watch: Woman Poses Daily to Document Year With Lung Cancer
Images capture Jennifer Glass in her first year of cancer treatment.
9 Real Solutions for Seasonal Allergies
To find solutions that actually work, we scoured the latest research. Here's what we found.
6 Food Labels That Don't Mean What You Think They Do
Misunderstanding these labels could be sabotaging your health.
4 Fun Ways to Get Your Vitamin D
Get your vitamin D the old-fashioned way: from good food and a bit of sun.
4 Ways to Stress Less and Look Great
Not only does stress affect your mood—and your midsection—but you can also see it on your skin in the form of lines, rashes, bumps and breakouts. Since we all experience pressure from time to time, the trick is how we deal with it.
 

Enrollment for healthcare exchanges as part of healthcare reform begins October 1 in states where exchanges will be set up. Expect special reports each week from us about what you need to know about 'Obamacare' and the ongoing political fight about its future.

To Learn More About Health Care Reform, Click Here

Navigation

Sacred Heart Health System - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
Sacred Heart Cardiology - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
Sacred Heart Cancer Center - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
Sacred Heart Orthopedics - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
Coastal Vein Institute - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
The Endoscopy Center - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
Coastal Vascular & Interventional - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
Stand Up Open MRI - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
Advertise with us!

Tonight on ABC 3

06:30PM Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
07:00PM The Middle
07:30PM Suburgatory
08:00PM Modern Family
08:31PM Mixology
09:00PM Nashville
10:00PM Channel 3 News

Complete ABC 3 Schedule