Robot Transforms Team-Based Healthcare


By: Brenda Neugent

While this robot doesn’t do housework, the technological advancements of the space-age cartoon “The Jetsons” might not be as far away as we think.

Thanks to a joint effort between InTouch Health, a leader in medical robots, and iRobot, the maker of the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, the world of robotic medicine has been substantially transformed.

The Food and Drug Administration recently gave the go-ahead to InTouch’s new RP-VITA robot, which is highlighted by a navigation feature that allows clinicians and nurses to send the robot where it’s needed, allowing it to play an active role in patient care.

“Simply by tapping a tablet screen, a clinician can select a destination, such as the ICU, and RP-VITA undocks and goes there independently. Upon arrival, it coordinates the care provided by a multidisciplinary team-some local, some remote,” InTouch said earlier this month in a press release.

The RP-VITA (which stands for Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant) is designed to expand the idea of team care by allowing both onsite and remote caregivers to have immediate access to all patient information, ensuring that all physicians involved in a case are in direct communication with one another.

Through the robot, onsite clinicians can link with remote specialists, instantly expanding the team of caregivers and taking the concept of team care to the next level.

“The robot displays patient data to the onsite nurse, respiratory therapist, and case manager, and also makes that same information available to a remote critical care physician and pharmacist. Soon a radiologist joins in the collaborative effort as the team details daily goals. RP-VITA then moves independently to the next patient, and eventually returns to its charging station.”

The company says the FDA clearance “specifically allows RP-VITA to be used for active patient monitoring in pre-operative, peri-operative, and post-surgical settings, including cardiovascular, neurological, prenatal, psychological, and critical care assessments and examinations.”

InTouch was founded in California in 2002. In 2012, the Massachusetts-based iRobot invested $6 million in InTouch, much of which was used to fund development of the RP-VITA.



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