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Medicine Robotics

iRobot's Robot Doc Is Ready To Heal You 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the bones-wouldn't-trust-them dept.
SkinnyGuy tips news that patients may soon be getting diagnosed with the help of a 5'4", 140lb assistant going by the name of RP-VITA. The 'Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant' was unveiled this week by iRobot (the company behind the Roomba vacuum bot) and InTouch Health, and it allows doctors a way to remotely gather data. "It may be controlled via joystick, but RP-Vita does have some awareness of its environment. It employs a dazzling array of sensors that include PrimeSense Sensors (the same ones you find in the Kinect for Xbox 360), two cameras that together approximate normal human vision, sonar and a laser range finder. It also creates a map of the hospital and knows the location, for example, of its roll-into charging base." RP-VITA is currently waiting on FDA approval for use inside a hospital, which its creators expect by the end of the year.
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iRobot's Robot Doc Is Ready To Heal You

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  • by longbot (789962) <longbottle@gmaCHEETAHil.com minus cat> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @06:09PM (#40758085) Homepage
    ...Or more likely, "pass credit card / insurance card through slot".
  • Depressing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @06:11PM (#40758103)

    Sorry, but to me this is just depressing. We already have to lots tons of money to wait forever to see a LIVE doctor who can barely be bothered to listen or treat before flying out of the room to the next patient. So this is just want we need- make the experience even that much less functional, colder, and more remote.

    At this rate, I would do better to just sit at home, Google up all my symptoms and treat myself. Or at least just take my own vitals and video conference with a doctor. Then at maybe I can skip the hour wait in the freezing waiting room with people coughing on me, kids screaming, and a TV blaring on some stupid reality show (or worse, some "public health message loop").

    Sorry for the rant, just have not had a lot of good experiences with doctors or doctor offices over the last few years.

    • by Cosgrach (1737088)

      Mod up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The United States is enamored with the idea that technology will -- somehow, someday -- fix our broken health care system. It won't, and it can't. It's a profoundly social problem.

    • Re:Depressing (Score:5, Informative)

      by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @08:22PM (#40759491)

      This isn't to replace GPs. It's so that smaller hospitals can benefit from some of the things that a large hospital can offer.

      As an example, suppose you're walking along and suddenly have trouble speaking. Your significant other / friend / whatever is concerned and takes you to your small local hospital. The doctors at that hospital suspect you're having a stroke, but no specialized stroke neurologist works there. So they call one, who examines you using the robot. He determines you are having a stroke, and imaging confirms it is ischemic. Since it's within the three hour window, he orders a local nurse to give you an IV injection of tPA, a clot busting drug. She does, monitors you, and you improve.

      Without the robot you would have to have been transferred to a larger hospital to see someone qualified to order tPA treatment, and by the time that happened it might well have been outside the three hour window.

    • by vlm (69642)

      At this rate, I would do better to just sit at home, Google up all my symptoms and treat myself.

      Your description is pretty much how my wifes allergies and sons digestive problems and my weight issues were treated. For some issues, its fundamentally the only way to do it, but people keep insisting on taking up space at a dr office.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @06:12PM (#40758129) Homepage

    Probably gets you some doctor in a call center somewhere.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Cheap Indian health care.

      It's our turn to outsource and this time it's the Doctors. They've priced themselves out of the market.

      • It's our turn to outsource and this time it's the Doctors. They've priced themselves out of the market.

        So true. And their phone booths are nowhere in sight when you actually need one.

      • by artor3 (1344997)

        Most insightful comment so far. This is exactly what it will be used for.

        And the middle class will die some more, and quality of life will decline some more, and the rich will become that much richer and better off by comparison. Which is, ultimately, what it's all about.

        • by pixr99 (560799)

          Medical credentialing makes it difficult to off shore this type of work. A hospital would have to send each doctor who might "see" patients through their state's credentialing process before they could cover a shift. This is time consuming and is especially difficult since, to make the economics of this attractive, these "doctor call centers" would need to have a bunch of docs... possibly all of which may need credentialing if the possibility exists of them seeing your patients.

          In a small rural hospital,

  • ... people will start lining up to be the first to get a prostate exam.
  • You've got: leprosy.

  • by ToadProphet (1148333) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @07:02PM (#40758715)

    My damn Roomba still can't manage to finish a floor without being foiled by a chair.

    • by tftp (111690)

      My damn Roomba still can't manage to finish a floor without being foiled by a chair.

      That's why the developers simplified the task.

  • Oblig (Score:5, Funny)

    by SrLnclt (870345) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @07:21PM (#40758903)
    Please state the nature of the medical emergency.
  • She's lost the will to live . . .
  • I guess they should get ready to be sued by Apple for using a lowercase "i" suffix in their product name.

    Speaking of which, I wonder when we'll see the first iLawyer, iJudge, and iPatentClerk.

  • ...of your medical emergency?

  • Umm... I'm pretty sure hospitals already have these units deployed.

    I'd swear the night nurse I had the last time I was in hospital was a robot.

  • Doctors already employ remote units to gather data- they are called NURSES.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The name... ...too close to RIP

  • Hrm, interesting that they are planning on using controllers like the Wii uses. From what I had read previously I thought it was going to use an iPad interface to control it and allow for immediate results coordinal to its position. -- SnappleX
  • tl;dr. If it is a telepresence robot, it should have a movable screen+camera on an arm that can lower to patient's head height when standing/sitting and move around the body. That and a document scanner and usb reader. And maybe infrared or ultrasound scanner if you want to augment senses. Instead it looks like they intentionally make it look tall and authoritarian. Perhaps it would be useful as a way to treat people in areas where there are no specialists. It could be staffed 24x7. Of course the idea that

    • Instead it looks like they intentionally make it look tall and authoritarian.

      5'4" is TALL??

      • by pixr99 (560799)

        Instead it looks like they intentionally make it look tall and authoritarian.

        5'4" is TALL??

        He's from Loompaland.

      • by mattr (78516)

        Look at the photo. Child sitting on a stool has to look at the ceiling.
        Don't know where its camera is, but it looks like it is made for navigating hallways not examining patients.

  • ... I welcome our mechanical orifice-probing overlords.

  • ...well ..... I suppose it infringes if it's calibrated for male patients.

  • There is the potential for some good to come from this. Perhaps when the remote presence devices get cheap enough, the "doctor" can come to you in the comfort of your own home like in ye goode olde days. Maybe they can even become cheap enough for many people to buy their own "doctor". We'll have to bust up the FDA/insurance/DME cartel first though, otherwise the robot will sell for 1000% what it would if it was a free market.
  • Dr. Lexus will be with you shortly.

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