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Using Remote Presence Telemedicine Robots in Medicine

photograph of the RP-Vita telemedicine robot with a patient in a hospital bed
RP-VITA telemedicine robot

Since around 2008 physicians used remote presence telemedicine robots to "beam" themselves into hospitals to diagnose patients and offer medical advice during emergencies. By 2012 or 2013 a growing number of hospitals in California and other states were using telepresence robots to expand access to medical specialists, especially in rural areas with a shortage of doctors.

On July 24, 2012 iRobot's Healthcare Robotics division and InTouch Health announced the RP-VITA (Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant).

The press release claimed that this telepresence robot incorporated:

  • 'An enhanced navigation capability that enables the RP-VITA to better manage driving and navigation elements so the health care professional can put more focus on patient care tasks. State‐of‐the-art mapping and Obstacle Detection Obstacle Avoidance (ODOA) technologies allow safe, fast, and highly flexible navigation in a clinical environment.
  • "An additional capability for the RP-VITA incorporates autonomous navigation and is being submitted to the FDA for 510(k) clearance. This capability will allow a remote clinician or bedside nurse to send the RP-VITA to a target destination with a single click, enabling a number of breakthrough clinical applications. InTouch Health anticipates clearance for this feature in Q4 2012.
  • "Real-time access to important clinical data, enabling a range of new workflow improvements for physicians, nurses and other patient care team members. For example, the RP-VITA can be integrated with live patient data from the electronic medical record and is equipped with the ability to connect with diagnostic devices such as otoscopes and ultrasound. It comes equipped with the latest electronic stethoscope.
  • "A new, simple to use iPad1 user interface will enable quick and easy navigation to anywhere the RP-VITA needs to go, as well as interaction with the patient, family and care team."

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