They may not be replacing doctors and nurses just yet, but robots could be providing bedside care in hospitals across the United States sooner than you think.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the go-ahead for the “Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant,” or RP-VITA for short. It’s the first autonomous navigation remote presence robot to receive FDA clearance.
In a collaborative effort, RP-VITA combines iRobot‘s innovative navigation and mobility technologies with InTouch Health’s cutting-edge telemedicine and electronic health record integration. The robot allows doctors to consult with patients and hospital staff remotely, and provides access to medical records, all with an iPad interface.
Sophisticated sensors allow RP-VITA to swiftly and safely navigate bustling hospital space without bumping into people, objects or walls.
“FDA clearance of a robot that can move safely and independently through a fast-paced, chaotic and demanding hospital environment is a significant technological milestone for the robotics and healthcare industries,” Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot, said in a press release. “There are very few environments as difficult to maneuver as that of a busy ICU or emergency department. Having crossed this technology threshold, the potential for self-navigating robots in other markets, and for new applications, is virtually limitless.”
Unlike the daVinci Si Surgical System, the RP-VITA won’t be preforming surgery on you quite yet — it just wants to keep an eye on you. The FDA clearance specifies that RP-VITA’s intended duties are active patient monitoring in pre-operative, peri-operative and post-surgical settings, including cardiovascular, neurological, prenatal, psychological and critical care assessments and examinations.