“Paging Dr. D2-MD, you have a patient in the holodeck.” That was the first thing that came to mind when I was told about robot doctors, but while the truth isn’t quite so amusing, it’s still good news for patients. Hospitals in Central Oregon are beginning to adopt robotic assistants for doctors, allowing them to speak and interact with patients in hospitals, no matter where they may be.
With the Robotic Office Diagnostic Assistant (Roda), doctors at St. Charles Bend will be able to speak face-to-face with patients in Redmond’s ICU, even if the doctor is miles away. That way, patients can be examined by specialists without needing to transfer them to another hospital or have the doctor take lengthy trips, which saves time, money, and often times lives.
Physicians can use a joystick to control the robot and camera to examine the patients, observing their pupil dilation or how capillaries refill. They can also listen to a patient’s heart and lungs with a high-tech stethoscope and a pair of headsets. The robot will eventually be able to plug directly into diagnostic equipment to send the readings directly to the doctors.
Roda has proven itself very helpful around the Redmond hospital, so it is possible that more will be purchased in the future, helping out other hospitals around the area. While they cost around $95,000 each, the amount of help they provide makes it a good investment.
Roda itself is a 5-foot tall machine, with a video screen propped on top, and a camera attached to that. Picture the “robot” Sheldon from the episode “Veggie Fail” of “The Big Bang Theory” and you’ll have a general idea of how it’s set up. The screen and camera provide high definition video, so clear that doctors can examine patients as well as they could in-person, while the patients can still see their doctors directly.
While video communication has been used in hospitals for a while, the robotic assistant has proven a great idea, and one that is helpful for patients and hospital staff alike. It keeps patients connected with their doctors, and vice-versa, without having to frequently move. This is one robot buddy that Redmond Hospital is glad to have.
Edited by Brooke Neuman