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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The future is now

We are already living in the future.

To be honest, I did not think that I would see the day when robots were part of the patient care process. In my mind, I envisioned robots doing things that people don’t like to do, like empty the bedpans or stuff like that. But I recently learned that one of the hospitals in our company is using robots , not for something that is stinky, but for something that is very important; patient rounds.

This robot is a computerized rover, being guided around by the doctor on call, who is at home. While he sits comfortably at his home, the doctor is able to direct the computerized robot around to the different patient rooms and see what is going on.   The patients and family look at the computer screen of the robot and see and hear the doctor talk in real time.

 There is also a high powered stethoscope on the robot so the nurse can place it anywhere on the patient so the doctor can listen in to help complete their assessment.  It also has the ability to zoom in to show any part of the patient’s body, too, so it is as if they really are in the room. In addition, the doctor can look at drip rates of the IV’s as well as the X-rays through this device. It seems the only thing it can’t do is smell.

It is pretty cool.

Using this robot is one of the pilot projects going on in one of the ICU’s here in the Bay Area of CA. Already they have seen a reduction in in emergency situations in the ICU, helping patients get better more quickly. The doctors, nurses, patients, and family members all seem to like the roving robot.  

I still get amazed when I find out what I thought would be the future, but discover it is part of our current reality.