Robot Roams UCLA Hospital's Halls, Can Make Doctors' Rounds

Robot Roams UCLA Hospital's Halls, Can Make Doctors' Rounds

Would you feel comforted if a robot came to your hospital bed to help examine you?

That's what you might have in store if you ever end up at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center's neurological intensive-care unit. Meet "EVA," all 5 feet, 5 inches and 176 pounds of her. This hefty techno-girl marks a milestone for UCLA:

She's the first robot at the school to be able to navigate the halls of the neurological intensive-care unit alone -- without a doctor using a joystick.

UCLA already debuted the first neurological ICU robot in 2005, but that one needed constant joystick guidance.

So why is EVA a big deal?

If you've had a stroke or another emergency that has sent you to such a neurological unit, doctors' time is precious, as seconds can mean the difference in brain-function loss.

Ms. EVA's ability to get back and forth on her own can save crucial minutes, let alone seconds.

Dr. Paul Vespa, director of neurocritical care at Ronald Reagan:

Robot Roams UCLA Hospital's Halls, Can Make Doctors' Rounds
UCLA

This new advance enables me to concentrate on caring for my patients without being distracted by the need to set up and manage its technological features.

Once she's in place at a patient's bedside, EVA can then facilitate FaceTime-style communication with a doctor at the other end of her screen. The robot can even focus in on a patient's chart or eyes, UCLA says.

The robot, developed by InTouch Health and iRobotCorp, has patient records on-file and can also remotely "connect with patients and their family members at a moment's notice," according to a UCLA statement.

She can't perform brain surgery, but time saved could be a life saved. Doctors are always nearby if they're needed.

Kevin Sittner, a former neuro-ICU patient at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center testifies:

The robot is the next best thing to having a doctor come and talk to you. You see each other's faces, and it feels like you're actually talking to the doctor. It was added comfort to me as a patient knowing I could get care whenever I needed it.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]


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