Telepresence technology is giving new meaning to the phrase “doctors without borders.” Telepresence robots are like Skype on wheels: long columns with video screens mounted on top. According to an excellent article in The Economist, doctors are already using these robots to see patients around the world:
Robotic-telepresence technology for hospitals is now so good “it’s like being at the bedside”, says Antonio Marttos, a doctor who uses robots to visit gunshot and bombing survivors in Brazil, Haiti, Iraq and elsewhere, from his base at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami [...]
Brazil’s Olympic Organising Committee will put telepresence robots in operating rooms for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro. João Grangeiro, the committee’s chief medical officer, says this means that doctors unable to accompany their athletes to the games will be able to advise Brazilian surgeons during operations.
Telepresence technology could also make waves in local settings. Emergency specialists who work in big cities could use it if they can’t make it to an urgent care situation. Doctors could delegate more tasks to nurse practitioners and check in on patients without coming into the hospital. And as the robots get more advanced, more applications will be possible. Some robots can now pilot themselves to a charging station when their batteries run down, while “others can synchronise themselves to users’ schedules, autonomously rolling into a given meeting at a particular time.”
We often talk about how technology is going to upend the health care industry. The increasing popularity of telepresence doctors shows that the future is already here.
[Image from telepresenceoptions.com]