The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

'Robodoc' makes his rounds to drive innovation in healthcare

I was reading the morning paper today and came across an interesting article about a new technology that made its debut in Folsom, CA affectionately named "Robodoc".

"Robodoc" shouldn't be confused with the software product "ROBOdoc" that helps software development organizations automate software documentation in source code. It does however have closer ties to "RoboCop", a police officer of the future featured in a 1987 thriller. "Robodoc" is a robotic medical device that automates the delivery of potentially life-saving care to stroke patients. Treating stroke patients is time-sensitive, as studies have shown that some patients have a better chance of making a reasonable recovery if a clot-busting drug is administered within a three-hour window.

"Robodoc" allows a doctor located miles, or even continents away to examine a patient brought into an emergency room through a laptop equipped with a joystick. A video screen positioned on top of the robot's body displays an image of the doctor. Cameras mounted above the screen are the robot's eyes, giving the doctor a view of the patient.

This remote presence tool in the telemedicine arsenal allows hospitals access to scarce specialists wherever they are in the world to evaluate a patient in a matter of minutes and deliver care that could be life-saving. The implementation of this technology in Folsom was only made possible by a philanthropic donation by a local family.

As with all new technologies in healthcare, incentives encourage adoption. The potential to improve patient care and mortality rates is endless. What's good for the patient is also good for the doctor. Doctors could be anywhere in the world, including the sipping wine at the Tignanello vineyards in Tuscany, Italy. I can see some new federal regulations governing the use of  "Robodoc" in the near future! Seriously, why does it take the philanthropic generosity of private citizens to drive innovation in healthcare?  Shouldn't every hospital have one?

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