Today, some of the pressing issues for hospitals include a shortage of specialists as well as an aging patient population that is going to need access to more specialist care in the future. Patients at academic medical centers and leading healthcare systems have been introduced to RP-VITA™ jointly developed by InTouch Health and iRobot. RP-VITA is a FDA cleared telemedicine robot combining state-of-the-art telecommunications and Auto Dive technology. From virtually anywhere in the world, the robot enables a physician to remotely take command of the clinical environment without the need for any onsite setup, coordination, or assistance from nurses or technical staff. Physicians can use an iPad interface to send the robot to the patient’s beside and then the robot automatically navigates throughout the hospital environment, by avoiding people and other obstacles along the way.
The robot incorporates advancements such as AutoDrive autonomous navigation capabilities and one-touch driving, state-of-the-art sensor intelligence, and sophisticated software allowing the robot to create a map of an ICU or ED floor that is integrated with hospital records. When a physician selects a patient on an iPad or PC interface, the physician can then connect with the patient in under a minute and have access to clinical documentation, patient data, and medical imaging.
One of the first major academic medical centers to introduce the robot is the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center which was the initial TeleICU program involved in the clinical development of RP-VITA. “The robot is the next best thing to having a doctor come and talk to you,” shared Kevin Sittner, a former neuro-ICU patient at the center. “You see each other’s face and it feels like you are actually talking to the doctor.”
Paul Vespa M.D, Director of Neurocritical Care at the UCLA Medical Center and Professor of Neurosurgery and Neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, describes his experience with the robot. He reports “The new technology enables me to concentrate on caring for my patient without being distracted by the need to set up and manage its technological features.”
By using RP-VITA, Providence Saint Joseph’s Medical Center is leading the first integrated TeleStroke network in Southern California by partnering with community hospitals throughout the San Fernando Valley. Jason Greenspan M.D. the project leader for the network says, “What is really unique about this program is that we’re looking at using the resources of various different hospitals to bring better services to the entire community.”
Other academic medical centers and health systems using the robot are located in the U.S and in Mexico representing a wide range of large urban hospitals and regional and community medical centers. These centers include Dignity Health in Sacramento CA, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, Orange County, CA, Instituto de Salud del Estado de Mexico, Mexico City, Ohio State Wexner Medical, Columbus Ohio, and St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington West Virginia.
“I believe telemedicine is now reaching an inflection point where its presence in healthcare will grow at an exponential pace because telemedicine has become so easy to use,” said Yulun Wang, PhD, Chairman and CEO of InTouch Health. “Also there is the need to provide high quality healthcare to everyone but at the same time, the need to reduce costs has reached a crisis level. The robot is able to bring the right clinical expertise to the right place at the right time to make medical decisions in a cost effective manner.”