By Kal Kaur IntroductionPR-VITAAccuracy of Diagnosis Why is the RP-VITA technology so Important?References
iRobot are known for building artificial technology that delivers results for the government and industry. The iRobot Roomba, a home vacuum cleaning robot designed and engineered under the Autocleaner project, a compact robot technology that can work well with humans, has demonstrated widespread public demand:
"Unlike nature, the media adores a vacuum. Specifically, the media adores Colin Angle's vacuum, Roomba, a sleek silver saucer that last autumn whirred its way onto the year's best-products list of Time, Business Week, and USA Today, among others." - Inc. Magazine, July 1, 2003
Research and development efforts by iRobot don’t just stop at consumer electronics; this firm have collaborated with InTouch Health - a company dedicated to design and manufacturing of telemedicine remote presence medical devices - recently made quite an impression on the media with the announcement of a new telemedicine robot doctor (RP-VITA) that allows physicians to interact with patients in a hospital setting to offer healthcare. The following video demonstrates application of the telepresence robotic technology in a hospital setting.
The device can automatically undock and can be sent to any location in a hospital by a touchscreen control unit. When inside a care unit, the RP-VITA device can access clinical data wirelessly to help deliver care to the patient. Of course, this remote telemedicine device needs to work with a nurse or physician present around the patient in order to coordinate team-based care. Once inside the care unit and wirelessly connected to the clinical data, the RP-VITA device alerts team-based care members including a nurse and respiratory therapist. The clinical data is displayed for the remote team of physicians to review the patient’s condition. As you can see from the video, the physician is requesting the nurse to monitor the patient’s breathing, feedback data for which is displayed on a screen for the remote physician to interpret and offer a diagnosis. This is a smart piece of equipment that will make remote monitoring of patients more feasible, though there needs to be further research into how well patients are able to initiate and complete a series of tasks set by the physician to aid in patient care.
The RP-VITA remote telemedicine device is made up of cameras, microphones, sensors to allow for 3D mapping, and a stethoscope to help monitor the internal sounds of the human body. The front screen to the RP-VITA device allows for user interface between the remote physician and the patient.
Accuracy of Diagnosis
There is the obvious concern over how accurate physician are able to correctly diagnose a condition from a distance. Evidence by Belachel, et al (2005) does demonstrate a high degree of precision in remote diagnosis. In this study, 191 Acute Leukemia cases were established from the database of Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc in Brussels by a web-based clinical decision support system. During experimental testing, the percentage of correct classification of Acute Leukemia cases was at 96% demonstrating how web-integration can be beneficial for the dissemination of a support system. Schwaab B et al (2005) conducted a study to compare the accuracy of a standard 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) to a 12-lead tele-ECG device. The study included 158 post-myocardial infarction cardiac patients at home receiving patient care via the tele-ECG technology. The finding revealed that 155 of 158 patients reported adequate quality of the tele-ECG technology for correct diagnosis in the corresponding patients.
Why is the RP-VITA Technology so Important?
There is a large amount of pressure on hospitals to improve patient care whilst also keeping treatment costs as low as possible. However, when resources are few and far between, the demand to achieve high-quality patient care can be hard to achieve. The aim of the RP-VITA technology is to maintain high-quality patient care by using remote technology with voice recognition ability to track and monitor the patient and then send this information to clinicians to help diagnose the patient’s condition. This technology is particularly beneficial as on-call assistance and patient discharge. Such novel technology may possibly become a common application in hospitals worldwide at some point in the near future. It will be interesting to see how such technology performs and affects patient care in third-world countries where medical practices may be problematic and also in some of the more challenging situation in critical care units.