ATA meeting to display robots, other telemedicine services

April 30, 2015 | Shaun Sutner | Search HealthIT

When physicians and nurses at community medical centers affiliated with Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego need a neonatologist to examine a newborn, they often turn to a robot.

A dozen or so robots from VGo Communications, Inc. are being used at Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta, Calif., and at Rady satellites elsewhere -- all substantial drives from the main hospital's hub -- to enable Rady specialists to practice telemedicine services.

At Rancho Springs, the mobile, friendly-looking robots, meant to replicate a person in distant locations, are loaded with interactive video gear and connected to the organization's secure videoconferencing system.

"They definitely work and, on a couple of occasions, they've prevented the need to transfer a baby from [an outlying] hospital to Rady," said Anthony Magit, M.D., the lead telemedicine physician at Rady. "And the parents like it. The acceptance rate is very high. It also allows parents to see a child when they aren't there."

Soon, VGo robots will patrol sections of the Los Angeles Convention Center exhibition floor when the American Telemedicine Association's (ATA) 20th Annual International Meeting & Trade Show kicks off May 2.

 The "robotic telepresence" machines, as the company based in Nashua, N.H., calls its products, will share the show floor with an expansive array of telemedicine services ranging a "smart insulin pen" to "telestroke" treatment systems to sensor-embedded clothing for remote patient monitoring.


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