Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant,
Imagine being in a hospital, somewhere in rural Iowa. Maybe you were visiting the country for a few days, or you were just passing through. Then something bad happens, you have a stroke, a heart attack or the onset some other complex medical condition. You need a specalist, but the nearest one is three hours away. Then, a robot comes rolling into the room. Your specalist has arrived.
The RP-VITA, short for Remote Presence Virtual + Independent
Telemedicine Assistant, made by InTouch Health made a major stride
forward this week as the company announced that the medical robot
received its FDA 510(K) clearance from the FDA in November. The robot is
a five foot tall tapered canister on wheels that is equipped with both a
camera and a tablet. The device is designed to help doctors to consult
with patients when they cannot be in the same facility.
The machine is also highly portable, with a self guidance system
that allows it to move from room to room inside of a facility without a
facilitator to guide it or a maintenance team to move it. The movement
system is described on the blog,
of the makers in the following terms, "our new RP-VITA remote presence
robot is taking ease of use to the next level with its environmental
awareness and autonomous capabilities. Simply by tapping a tablet
screen, a clinician can select a destination (such as the ICU) and
RP-VITA undocks and goes there independently."
The 510(K) approval recently given by the FDA is the clearance
needed to allow the self driving system to be used in medical
facilities, it was the final needed clearance. The Robots are expected
to roll out over the next couple of months, with no firm dates in place.
The machines will be rented to facilities on a month-by-month basis and
will cost between $4,000 and $6,000 each month. The robots do take some
time to adapt to the layoff of individual facilities before they can be
used by physicians reliably.