Lifewatch: Robotic telemedicine

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - Patients checking in at a remote office linked to Baylor Medical Center outside Dallas may be surprised to hear, "The robot will see you now."

A robot named "Bessy" is the newest member of the medical team, and doctors say she has the right touch when it comes to intensive care.

With just the click of a mouse and the assistance of a joystick, physicians at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas can see patients 30 miles away at Baylor Medical Center at Waxahachie.

"I'm able to drive around the ICU and in the patient's rooms as needed," said intensivist Dr. Stephanie Woolley.  "I will be rounding with the nurses and doctors today on their patients in the ICU."

Bessy stands for Baylor's Extra Specialist Seeing You, the latest in robotic telemedicine.

The high-tech machine allows highly specialized ICU doctors the ability to offer consultation and treatment to patients in Waxahachie without leaving their home base.

"More importantly, if they have a patient who develops a problem, they can call us and say, 'Listen we're having a problem with this patient, can you please come help us?'" said Woolley.  "We can, in a matter of minutes, be on the robot, take it into the patient's room, look at the patient, interact with the patient, actually even examine the patient through the robot."

According to data monitor, hospitals reportedly have invested more than $2 billion just this year in telemedicine.

Baylor is 1 of 250 hospitals nationwide that use a robot to help patients.