Saturday, July 14, 2007

Mr. Smith? The Doctor Robot Will See You Now

OK, this is not as bad as it sounds; they're not actually replacing doctors with robots per se. It's actually pretty cool:
Has it come to this? Robots standing in for doctors at the hospital patients' bedside?

Not exactly, but some doctors have found a way to use a videoconferencing robot to check on patients while they're miles from the hospital.

One is at Baltimore's Sinai Hospital. Outfitted with cameras, a screen and microphone, the joystick-controlled robot is guided into the rooms of Dr. Alex Gandsas' patients where he speaks to them as if he were right there.

"The system allows you to be anywhere in the hospital from anywhere in the world," said the surgeon, who specializes in weight-loss surgery.

Besides his normal morning and afternoon in-person rounds, Gandsas uses the $150,000 robot to visit patients at night or when problems arise. The robot can circle the bed and adjust the position of its two cameras, giving "the perception from the patient's standpoint that the doctor is there," the surgeon said.
I for one was relieved to find out that Dr. Robot was visiting mostly weight-loss surgery patients and not something more intense like heart surgery. Used in this way, it sounds like a clever use of technology when a doctor can't literally be several places at the same time.

Would you object to a visit from Dr. Robot if he were used in this manner?

FOR SALE: A bit of a fixer-upper: Realtors in Rhode Island are having trouble selling what would ordinarily be a nice house, because of one feature that the builder never intended to have: Vultures.

This is good to know, I suppose: For humans, eating other humans is hazardous to one's health.

At least he would have gotten a good seat: A Canadian man flew to Wales for a friend's July 6 wedding, only to discover upon his arrival that the wedding won't take place until 2008.

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