Military and consumer robot maker iRobot recently unveiled RP-VITA, a robot that uses telehealth technology to connect remote physicians and other health care providers with hospital patients, the Boston Globe reports (Adams, Boston Globe, 7/24).
The Bedford, Mass.-based company, which developed the Roomba vacuum cleaner, last year invested in InTouch Health, which makes video-enabled, remote-controlled hospital service robots (Donnelly, Boston Business Journal, 7/24).
RP-VITA is a 140-pound telehealth robot that allows physicians to virtually visit patients and take measurements in real time. It transmits video, audio and navigation instructions.
In addition, the robot is equipped with:
- 3-D mapping sensors;
- A stethoscope; and
- A video screen, which signifies the robot's head (Boston Globe, 7/24).
RP-VITA can be integrated with an electronic health record system and can connect to diagnostic devices (Boston Business Journal, 7/24).
Physicians, patients and hospital staff members can control RP-VITA using a special terminal or an iPad. Unlike many older telehealth robots, RP-VITA can navigate around the hospital on its own.
The robots are scheduled to become available to all hospitals later this year and will cost between $4,000 and $6,000 per month to lease.
Response to RP-VITA
Jason Knight -- a pediatric emergency care physician at the Children's Hospital of Orange County, one of two California hospitals testing RP-VITA -- said the telehealth robot allows him to "get data I never had over the phone."
Liz Boehm of ExperiaHealth, a patient experience consulting firm, said, "From the patient perspective, the advantage is the rapidity. The faster you get a diagnosis and treatment, the better your outcome" (Boston Globe, 7/24).