Welcome the RP-VITA, the first robot able to navigate the hospital on its own.
The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is the world’s first hospital to introduce a remote-presence robot into its neurological intensive-care unit. The UCLA staff affectionately dubbed the 5’5″, 176-pound robot “EVA,” for executive virtual attending physician. Unlike earlier models that physicians steered via a computer-linked joystick, this version drives on auto-pilot, freeing doctors to devote more time to patient care.
“During a stroke, the loss of a few minutes can mean the difference between preserving or losing brain function,” said Dr. Paul Vespa, director of neurocritical care at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and a professor of neurosurgery and neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “This new advance enables me to concentrate on caring for my patients without being distracted by the need to set up and manage its technological features.”
With a simple push of an iPad button, Vespa can send the robot gliding down the hall to a patient’s room. Equipped with 30 sensors that enable the it to “see” when its route is blocked by a gurney or curious bystander, EVA possesses the intelligence to self-correct and plot a detour to its destination.
After the robot reaches a patient’s bedside, Vespa can examine the patient in real time. A two-way video monitor in EVA’s “face” enables the patient and doctor to see and hear each other. A 120x zoom capacity allows Vespa to magnify a single word on the patient’s chart or zero in on the patient’s eyes to check for dilated pupils.
In the neuro-ICU, where “time is brain,” EVA enables neurosurgeons and neurologists to connect with patients and their family members at a moment’s notice, regardless of where they are. The robot also allows specialists to offer lifesaving consultations on complex cases worldwide at hospitals without neurocritical-care expertise. Encrypted patient data and medical images are easily downloaded from a cloud-based network.
“Consumers nationwide are facing long delays in medical delivery, largely because the health care system can’t provide enough physicians in enough locations,” Vespa said. “We need new technologies that revolutionize physicians’ capacity to see more patients and greatly expand patients’ access to specialized care.”
Posted on UCLA Newsroom
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