Tallaght Hospital, located in Dublin, Ireland, is developing a reputation for the innovative use of technology in their patient care. It's the first hospital in the country to deploy a Remote Presence Robot which helps doctors diagnose strokes quickly so that clot busting drugs can be administered within the four-and-a-half hour target time, improving the chances of recovery.But on to the latest innovation – you may have seen its type on a recent episode of Modern Family (Robot Phil), or the Tate Museum in London offering unique ‘after dark’ tours by robot but the Tallaght Robot is different.
Approximately five feet tall with a screen for a head, the doctor operating it on the other end is seen and heard. A camera is mounted on top, transmitting video and audio back the other way. The doctor uses a mobile phone to move the robot. The mobility of the Double makes it more user-friendly. With modern technology what it is now, patients of all ages are used to video conferencing through FaceTime and other technologies. While they are a little surprised to see a ‘talking head’ by their bedside, it is not an entirely alien concept.
LUCY is used in the Acute Surgical Assessment Unit in Tallaght Hospital, providing access to the most senior consultants on urgent cases that need a consult. This enables medical staff to ensure patients are seen and assessed quickly so decisions can be made to their care. The decision to admit a patient to the hospital or what tests need to be carried out for example. This reduces the time the patient has to wait considerably. Using a well-developed protocol, senior clinicians can provide a consultation quickly, for example a surgeon can be scheduled to undertake endoscopic procedures for a number of hours which would mean a patient has to wait. But by using LUCY, a consult can be provided between procedures, shortening the waiting time for the patient. It is also being used for ward rounds on two wards in the Hospital and as the mobile network infrastructure is upgraded this will be extended out to other parts of the hospital.
By using this technology, the efficiency of the unit is increased and makes specialists available around the clock as they can speak with the patient from their mobile phone via the screen when time is of the essence. It’s a major leap forward in the use of technology in Irish healthcare and has only begun use recently after the €5 million upgrade of the hospital’s ED.
Tallaght Hospital is the first to use this type of robot at present but no doubt something we will start to see a lot more of in healthcare.