Robot Doctors Infiltrate OC Hospitals, Just Like the Mayans Said They Would

If you thought your doctor had cold hands when he or she asked you to turn and cough, wait until RP-VITA gets you in its grasp.

Developed by the makers of the Roomba, the Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant that just got a test drive at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach does for doctoring what the robotic vacuum does for housecleaning.

InTouch Health collaborated with iRobot to create RP-VITA, reports Computerworld Techworld. The version that recently made the rounds at Hoag was 5-foot-4, 140 pounds, had a video screen for a head, a microphone and speaker for a mouth and two high definition cameras for eyes.

That allowed a physician or nurse offsite to be right there--virtually--in the examination room. Movements were controlled by the human user thanks to a laptop and WiFi connection. The makers are betting their telemedics can pitch in at times staffing is low, such as graveyard shifts.

"Remote presence capability has the opportunity to transform healthcare delivery at its core," Yulun Wang, CEO of InTouch, reportedly boasted. "I can see a day where millions of sessions are going on on an annual basis."

Were only the hospital co-pays virtual.

Besides Hoag, clinical trials geared toward FDA approval of the technology are being held at Children's Hospital of Orange County, where patients have long interacted with RP-VITA's cousin, the handheld video game machine.

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