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iRobot's Robot Doc Is Ready To Heal You

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the bones-wouldn't-trust-them dept.

Medicine 53

SkinnyGuy tips news that patients may soon be getting diagnosed with the help of a 5'4", 140lb assistant going by the name of RP-VITA. The 'Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant' was unveiled this week by iRobot (the company behind the Roomba vacuum bot) and InTouch Health, and it allows doctors a way to remotely gather data. "It may be controlled via joystick, but RP-Vita does have some awareness of its environment. It employs a dazzling array of sensors that include PrimeSense Sensors (the same ones you find in the Kinect for Xbox 360), two cameras that together approximate normal human vision, sonar and a laser range finder. It also creates a map of the hospital and knows the location, for example, of its roll-into charging base." RP-VITA is currently waiting on FDA approval for use inside a hospital, which its creators expect by the end of the year.

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INSERT COIN (2)

longbot (789962) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758085)

...Or more likely, "pass credit card / insurance card through slot".

Depressing (5, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758103)

Sorry, but to me this is just depressing. We already have to lots tons of money to wait forever to see a LIVE doctor who can barely be bothered to listen or treat before flying out of the room to the next patient. So this is just want we need- make the experience even that much less functional, colder, and more remote.

At this rate, I would do better to just sit at home, Google up all my symptoms and treat myself. Or at least just take my own vitals and video conference with a doctor. Then at maybe I can skip the hour wait in the freezing waiting room with people coughing on me, kids screaming, and a TV blaring on some stupid reality show (or worse, some "public health message loop").

Sorry for the rant, just have not had a lot of good experiences with doctors or doctor offices over the last few years.

Re:Depressing (0)

Cosgrach (1737088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758511)

Mod up.

Re:Depressing (1)

Cosgrach (1737088) | about 2 years ago | (#40774117)

Well, it was not fucking redundant when I made the original post.

Re:Depressing (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40759063)

The United States is enamored with the idea that technology will -- somehow, someday -- fix our broken health care system. It won't, and it can't. It's a profoundly social problem.

Re:Depressing (5, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#40759491)

This isn't to replace GPs. It's so that smaller hospitals can benefit from some of the things that a large hospital can offer.

As an example, suppose you're walking along and suddenly have trouble speaking. Your significant other / friend / whatever is concerned and takes you to your small local hospital. The doctors at that hospital suspect you're having a stroke, but no specialized stroke neurologist works there. So they call one, who examines you using the robot. He determines you are having a stroke, and imaging confirms it is ischemic. Since it's within the three hour window, he orders a local nurse to give you an IV injection of tPA, a clot busting drug. She does, monitors you, and you improve.

Without the robot you would have to have been transferred to a larger hospital to see someone qualified to order tPA treatment, and by the time that happened it might well have been outside the three hour window.

Re:Depressing (1)

cristiroma (606375) | more than 2 years ago | (#40761563)

And the next big thing will be to outsource this to India. Or China.

Re:Depressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40759781)

Well, aside from the self-diagnosis and treatment through Google, you would probably be fine with most of that.

A good computer program can do almost everything an overworked doctor can. Add a few sensors and put it in a sterizable box (UV, ozone, dry air, whatever) and put them on every street corner, assuming high enough population density.

The few people not effectively helped would be easily served by the less worked doctors no longer dispensing routine antibiotics.

Re:Depressing (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40762509)

At this rate, I would do better to just sit at home, Google up all my symptoms and treat myself.

Your description is pretty much how my wifes allergies and sons digestive problems and my weight issues were treated. For some issues, its fundamentally the only way to do it, but people keep insisting on taking up space at a dr office.

Re:Depressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40763281)

We use the RP-7 in our hospitals now (the previous, non-iRobot version of this device). It's worked quite well to provide stroke and other neurology coverage in facilities that would otherwise have none. Doctors can round more frequently since they can do it from home. There are advantages.

Call center doctors (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758129)

Probably gets you some doctor in a call center somewhere.

Re:Call center doctors (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758157)

Cheap Indian health care.

It's our turn to outsource and this time it's the Doctors. They've priced themselves out of the market.

Re:Call center doctors (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758337)

It's our turn to outsource and this time it's the Doctors. They've priced themselves out of the market.

So true. And their phone booths are nowhere in sight when you actually need one.

Re:Call center doctors (2)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40759007)

Most insightful comment so far. This is exactly what it will be used for.

And the middle class will die some more, and quality of life will decline some more, and the rich will become that much richer and better off by comparison. Which is, ultimately, what it's all about.

Re:Call center doctors (2)

pixr99 (560799) | more than 2 years ago | (#40762539)

Medical credentialing makes it difficult to off shore this type of work. A hospital would have to send each doctor who might "see" patients through their state's credentialing process before they could cover a shift. This is time consuming and is especially difficult since, to make the economics of this attractive, these "doctor call centers" would need to have a bunch of docs... possibly all of which may need credentialing if the possibility exists of them seeing your patients.

In a small rural hospital, devices like this would be used to provide specialty or sub-specialty services that the hospital wouldn't normally be able to offer its community since it's tough to get a cardiologist (or whatever) to move, along with his/her spouse, out to the sticks.

I'll bet ... (0)

jasnw (1913892) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758159)

... people will start lining up to be the first to get a prostate exam.

Gee that Obama is smart (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758169)

Is this part of that 2700 page ACA plan then?

Free Robot Healthcare?

"I see you are suffering from a broken ankle. Would you like to A) Vote Democrat, B) Wait in line for a human service tech to set your leg or C) Repeat Menu?

Wait time for option B is 16 days 4 hours and 3 minutes"

Re:Gee that Obama is smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758343)

Congratulations on the most clumsy segue into $CURRENT_US_PRESIDENT bashing I've seen all year.

Re:Gee that Obama is smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758405)

Clumsy?

Riiiiiiiigggggggggggghhhhhhhhht. /drevil

Re:Gee that Obama is smart (1)

BlearyTruth (2692231) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758651)

Seems pretty spot on to me.

greatest American failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40768547)

Hussein should have rammed single-payer down the throats of the Republicans while the Dems had the majority.
stupid bitch.

Medibot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758263)

Is there anything which cannot be done more expensively and worse with unnecessary technology?

If it's that easy to diagnose you, we're wasting our time and money training up an artificially restricted number of medical professionals with 5-10 years of theoretical and practical work.

Re:Medibot! (1)

gomiam (587421) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758333)

Of course, diagnosing it 5-10 years ago wasn't so easy because the technology wasn't up to par. Of course, there are things this robot won't still be able to diagnose because they are outside its known ruleset. Was your point that taking a load out of already overworked doctors is a bad idea?

Big Bang Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758311)

Does this remind anyone of Sheldon's telepresence robot?

Buck Rogers, Here We Come (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758315)

Not too far off from Chrichton, from Buck Rogers.

http://i3.ytimg.com/vi/rmTRYVJCGZE/mqdefault.jpg

Missed opportunity.... (1)

InspectorGadget1964 (2439148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758371)

I believe that most people have not notice the opportunity for a second business here. Would be reasonably easy to put some sort of fast food restaurant and sell things like radioactive chicken and glow in the dark burgers.....

Robot? blah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758387)

I'd rather have one of Larry Niven's autodocs.

Re:Robot? blah. (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#40768623)

I'd rather have one of Larry Niven's autodocs.

Just make sure to double-check those indicator bulbs!

Welcome to "Virtual Doctor." (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758529)

You've got: leprosy.

Trust a super sized Roomba with our health? (2)

ToadProphet (1148333) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758715)

My damn Roomba still can't manage to finish a floor without being foiled by a chair.

Re:Trust a super sized Roomba with our health? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758937)

My damn Roomba still can't manage to finish a floor without being foiled by a chair.

That's why the developers simplified the task.

Oblig (5, Funny)

SrLnclt (870345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758903)

Please state the nature of the medical emergency.

Re:Oblig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40768167)

Thanks, I needed that.

Robot Offers Expert Advice (1)

paleo2002 (1079697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758967)

She's lost the will to live . . .

iRobot (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758977)

I guess they should get ready to be sued by Apple for using a lowercase "i" suffix in their product name.

Speaking of which, I wonder when we'll see the first iLawyer, iJudge, and iPatentClerk.

What is the nature... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40759009)

...of your medical emergency?

Re:What is the nature... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40760853)

You're the second to quote that, but the first to misquote it.

I think they already have them.... (1)

tenex (766192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40759055)

Umm... I'm pretty sure hospitals already have these units deployed.

I'd swear the night nurse I had the last time I was in hospital was a robot.

Not Doc, Nurse (1)

microcars (708223) | more than 2 years ago | (#40759061)

Doctors already employ remote units to gather data- they are called NURSES.

R...#...P (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40759171)

The name... ...too close to RIP

uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40759269)

judging by the haphazard tracks roomba leaves randomly in my carpet marking its disoriented path, or by the god-awful shower of leaves, twigs, other debris and water that looj creates when "cleaning" my gutters, i am going to go ahead and hold off on any surgeries where rp-kevorkian is assisting.

Re:uh... (1)

pixr99 (560799) | more than 2 years ago | (#40762553)

i am going to go ahead and hold off on any surgeries where rp-kevorkian is assisting.

I agree. A telepresence robot is a poor choice for surgery. You also should not have it fetch beer from the fridge or groom your chinchilla. For robotic surgery, it is advised to use a robotic surgery robot. They tend to be more suited for the purpose (for whatever reason).

change of direction? (1)

SNAPPLEX (2691525) | more than 2 years ago | (#40759609)

Hrm, interesting that they are planning on using controllers like the Wii uses. From what I had read previously I thought it was going to use an iPad interface to control it and allow for immediate results coordinal to its position. -- SnappleX

Wrong direction? (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 2 years ago | (#40759925)

tl;dr. If it is a telepresence robot, it should have a movable screen+camera on an arm that can lower to patient's head height when standing/sitting and move around the body. That and a document scanner and usb reader. And maybe infrared or ultrasound scanner if you want to augment senses. Instead it looks like they intentionally make it look tall and authoritarian. Perhaps it would be useful as a way to treat people in areas where there are no specialists. It could be staffed 24x7. Of course the idea that it stands in for a physical GP on the spot sounds pretty ridiculous.

Re:Wrong direction? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40762477)

Instead it looks like they intentionally make it look tall and authoritarian.

5'4" is TALL??

Re:Wrong direction? (1)

pixr99 (560799) | more than 2 years ago | (#40762561)

Instead it looks like they intentionally make it look tall and authoritarian.

5'4" is TALL??

He's from Loompaland.

Re:Wrong direction? (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 2 years ago | (#40772153)

Look at the photo. Child sitting on a stool has to look at the ceiling.
Don't know where its camera is, but it looks like it is made for navigating hallways not examining patients.

Personally ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#40760219)

... I welcome our mechanical orifice-probing overlords.

Weyland industries copyright infringement! (1)

ihaveamo (989662) | more than 2 years ago | (#40760225)

...well ..... I suppose it infringes if it's calibrated for male patients.

This a scary,my Roomba's have all gone brain dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40762425)

We tried going the roomba scooba route and in both cases within a year both had gone completely brain dead and stopped functioning propery...the Scooba was replaced 3 times.

Not sure I want a medical device thats going to do this...

Home visits possible? (1)

fastgriz (1052034) | more than 2 years ago | (#40763357)

There is the potential for some good to come from this. Perhaps when the remote presence devices get cheap enough, the "doctor" can come to you in the comfort of your own home like in ye goode olde days. Maybe they can even become cheap enough for many people to buy their own "doctor". We'll have to bust up the FDA/insurance/DME cartel first though, otherwise the robot will sell for 1000% what it would if it was a free market.

Thank you for waiting. (1)

BilldaCat (19181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40763699)

Dr. Lexus will be with you shortly.

Better than nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40765101)

This is better than not having a specialist to consult, but that's all it is. Doctors use all of their senses to diagnose. The human nose is a fast, sensitive chemical lab able to give you a lot of information if you know what you're smelling, Palpation (touch) is a standard part of any examination.
Seeing and hearing a patient is fine if that's all you have and could prove vital in some situations. I think it will seriously handicap any doctor who uses it as a primary way of examining patients.
So to recap:
Emergency use: Better than nothing.
Standard care: Bad.

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