Open Wide, InTouch Health and iRobot Debut RP-VITA

Take a look at what might soon be coming to a hospital near you – the RP-VITA. Think Roomba, M.D.

iRobot, the very company behind the Roomba, has joined forces with InTouch to create a robotic proxy for doctors, called the RP-VITA. The RP-VITA, which stands for Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant, features two screens – one at the top that allows health care teams and patients to have teleconferences with doctors, and another touchscreen in the midsection that will allow for different kinds of interaction depending on the situation.

Doctors will be able to control the RP-VITA using a customized interface designed for the iPad. The idea is that the doctor can interact with the patient and lead medical teams from anywhere, making response time faster, especially in emergency situations. It might even cut down on your wait time in acute care – in many cases, the doctor will be able to move from patient to patient without even leaving his office, ideally making the hospital more efficient.

The RP-VITA can also connect to diagnostic devices like ultrasounds, transmitting the data directly to the doctor. That kind of functionality will allow doctors to switch between sets of data for different patients on the fly, making things a little faster. It’ll also probably redefine what is meant by “the doctor will see you now.”

The RP-VITA is based on iRobot’s Ava model – which we saw earlier this year at CES. This new robot allows a physician to make medical decisions and direct patient care from anywhere in the world.  It connects the physician from virtually anywhere to important patient data.  Its enhanced navigation capability enables the RP-VITA to better manage driving and navigation elements. This means that the RP-VITA can sense staff, patients and objects and move on its own to avoid them.This allows physicians to focus more on patient care rather than worrying about the placement of the robot.

Let’s hope it’s only used for good, in what InTouch terms telemedicine. Who knows, someday it could make house calls for doctors more literal than ever.

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