Last summer we mentioned that iRobot was conducting trials with the new telepresence robot called the RP-VITA. Today word has turned up that the FDA has approved that robot for use in hospitals within the United States. RP-VITA stands for Remote Presence Virtual Independent Telemedicine Assistant.
The robot stands approximately the height that a human would and has technology inside to allow it to self navigate. The technology is designed to support remote Doctor and patient consultations allowing the physician to be where he’s needed to be at the right time. The robot is packed with sensors allowing it to move around without bumping into people or other objects.
The system has an iPad interface that allows the doctor to communicate with staff and patients. With the FDA granting approval for the robot to be used in hospitals, it can now be used for active patient monitoring in pre-operative, peri-operative, and postsurgical settings. I wonder if this means on-call doctors might not have to rush back into the hospital when the phone rings if one of these robots is available.
The FDA approval includes clearances to work in the cardiovascular, neurological, prenatal, psychological, and critical care areas. The robot has an integrated monitor and web cam and allows the remotely operating physician to access patient information using Wi-Fi. It also has a built-in stethoscope allowing the doctor to perform ears on assessments from a distance. The robot is far from cheap with previous estimates that between $4000 and $6000 monthly to operate.