Robots are set to enter operating theaters, albeit remotely controlled. InTouch Health Care is developing robots that will allow doctors to provide their expertise and care remotely.
These robots aren’t replacement doctors, but will extend the reach of most physicians. The company’s new robot, RP-VITA (Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant) was shown at the Wired Health Conference.
InTouch developed the humanoid-looking robot with iRobot, the company most famous for developing Roomba robotic vacuums, and it can also interface with third-party apps. Enough bandwidth needs to be ensured so that there is no lag in the Internet connection. Specific sequestrated channels of bandwidth will be dedicated to the robots, which will roam 650 hospitals worldwide, most of the located in the USA.
It will cost hospitals between $4,000 and $6,000 a month to use RP-VITA to access specialists that they might not be able to afford otherwise. VITA could be programmed to independently roam through an ICU to periodically check on patients, collect data and alert staff if a problem is discovered.
VITA stands 5′ 6″ and weighs 175 pounds and doesn’t have any arms, so human interaction between patient and caregivers remains vital.