Docs can log in to robots remotely to examine patients miles away

Our Bureau Hyderabad | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on October 29, 2011

An RP-7 Remote Presence Robot guides a paramedics team to attend to a patient at the Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad on Saturday. A neurosurgeon guides the team from another location to enable real-time quality care. — P. V. Sivakumar   -  Business Line

On Saturday morning, Dr Linda of Beijing was busy listening to her patient down with stroke symptoms before moving to a corner in the room to examine MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) reports to write prescription.

Perhaps, this is what she does every day. But what was new was she was examining a patient admitted to a hospital in Hyderabad, thousands of miles away. Neither the doctor nor the patient has telemedicine facilities.

Robotics in medicine is evolving. The Chinese neurologist had logged into the 5-feet robot - RP-7 - from her laptop and took control. Just like you turn and move your head, she could turn the monitor to look at the patient, nurse or local doctor, posing questions and giving suggestions.

She would then walk the robot to a corner to examine the CT-scan reports of patients on a tube light-lit board and turn back to the patient to give her opinion.

“We have set up a stroke control command at Hyderabad facility that works around the robot with a set of paramedics well versed in stroke protocol,” Dr Prathap C. Reddy, Chairman of Apollo Hospitals Group, said

Showcasing how the robot, Ms Robot as he calls it, at Apollo's Jubilee Hills facility here, Dr Reddy said the robot could be operated remotely - either by the control command set up somewhere in the hospital or by doctor from whatever location she or he is in.

“The scope of telemedicine is limited by infrastructure. Arrival of robot would change this paradigm. We are going to establish robot-supported stroke units in all the seven major hospitals, including in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, in the next few months. Each unit would cost Rs 1.5 crore and would cost Rs 10,000 more for patients,” he points out.

The robot could be used to tackle other diseases as well. You know, it is an obliging master, Dr Reddy quips.

Published on October 29, 2011
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