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 Robot Doc Visits Patients

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Registration date : 2007-09-19

PostSubject: Robot Doc Visits Patients   Fri Sep 21, 2007 12:14 am

July 16, 2007 Some doctors have found a way to use a
videoconferencing robot to check on patients while they're miles from
the hospital.



One is at Baltimore's Sinai Hospital. Outfitted with cameras, a screen
and microphone, the joystick-controlled robot is guided into the rooms
of Dr. Alex Gandsas' patients where he speaks to them as if he were
right there.



"The system allows you to be anywhere in the hospital from anywhere in
the world," said the surgeon, who specializes in weight-loss surgery.



Besides his normal morning and afternoon in-person rounds, Gandsas uses
the $150,000 robot to visit patients at night or when problems arise.
The robot can circle the bed and adjust the position of its two
cameras, giving "the perception from the patient's standpoint that the
doctor is there," the surgeon said.



"They love it. They'd rather see me through the robot," he said of his patients' reaction to the machine.



Gandsas presented the idea to hospital administrators as a method to
more closely monitor patients following weight-loss surgery. Gandsas,
an unpaid member of an advisory board for the robot's manufacturer who
has stock options in the company, added that since its introduction,
the length of stay has been shorter for the patients visited by the
robot.



A chart-review study of 376 of the doctor's patients found that the 92
patients who had additional robotic visits had shorter hospital stays.
Gandsas' study appears in the July issue of the Journal of the American
College of Surgeons.



Nicknamed Bari for the bariatric surgery Gandsas practices, the RP-7
Remote Presence Robotic System by InTouch Technologies is one of a
number of robotic devices finding their way into the medical world.
Across town at Johns Hopkins, for example, a similar robot is used to
teleconference with a translator for doctors who don't speak their
patient's language. Robotic devices have also been used to guide stroke
patients through therapy and help them play video games.



Michael Chan, executive vice president with InTouch Technologies, said
his company's device allows physicians to "be in more than one place at
once."



Speaking with Gandsas through one of the robots at company headquarters
in Santa Barbara, Calif., Chan said the company envisions applications
for the devices in remote locations and for dealing with shortages of
health care professionals. About 120 of the robots are in use in
hospitals worldwide.



Sinai patient David Williams said he appreciated the fact that Gandsas knew the details of his care.



"If you're laying flat like this and you see his face, I don't care
what the man's dressed in. You're seeing him and you're talking to him
and he's answering your questions," said Williams, a retiree from
Falling Waters, W. Va.



Nurse Florence Ford, who has worked with the robot since it was
introduced about 18 months ago, said patients have reacted well,
particularly because "seeing the doctor's face gives them confidence."



Dr. Louis Kavoussi, chairman of the urology department at the North
Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, said a study he did on the use
of InTouch robots found no decrease in patient satisfaction or increase
in complications. Kavoussi said the field is in its infancy and he
expects the use of such devices will grow.



"This is a very rudimentary robot. It doesn't do a whole lot other than
videoconference with patients. But it's the beginning of this
technology," Kavoussi said, adding robots might not be the only form
the technology takes.



"The same monitor you watch your entertainment on you'll be able to
order your lunch menu, instead of having those paper menus, and you may
be able to interact with your nurses and doctors right at the bedside."



Sourse: Discovery News
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