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iRobot And InTouch Health Roll Out New Remote Physician
The collaboration marks iRobot's first foray into healthcare robotics
By RBR Staff


IRobot and its telemedicine partner InTouch Health are launching their first health robot, which combines telemedicine technology from InTouch Health with autonomous navigation and mobility developed for the iRobot Ava mobile robotics platform.

The companies will unveil their RP-VITA (Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant) at the InTouch Health 7th Annual Clinical Innovations Forum, to be held July 26 – 28 in Santa Barbara, CA. The technology is expected to become an integral part of hospitals’ team-structured environment, and will address staffing issues as well as drastically reduce operating costs at those facilities.

Bedford, Mass.-based iRobot is best known for its consumer robots, such as the Roomba vacuuming robot, and is also a provider of robotic devices to the U.S. military. The company has recently placed greater emphasis on its health care division. IRobot launched a partnership with InTouch Health last year and made a $6 million investment in the company, in January.

The new robot is designed to allow doctors to take command of any clinical, patient or care team management process remotely. The new technology ensures that the physician is in the right place at the right time and has access to the necessary clinical information to take immediate action if necessary.The RP-VITA will be sold by InTouch Health but iRobot said it will seek out adjacent markets for robots like the RP-VITA and iRobot Ava”.

“While this represents our first foray into the healthcare market, the RP-VITA represents a robust platform, and we foresee many future opportunities in adjacent markets,” CEO Colin Angle said in a statement. “Robots like the RP-VITA and iRobot Ava are easy to use and able to autonomously navigate real world environments. They lend themselves to a wide variety of applications in home, retail, industrial and other settings.”

The companies said the robot can be steered to where it needs to go using a simple iPad interface. The RP-VITA can be integrated with electronic medical records and can connect with diagnostic devices such as otoscopes and ultrasound. Like a human doctor, the robot wears a stethoscope.

Some of RP-VITA’s key capabilities include:

  • An enhanced navigation capability that enables the RP-VITA to better manage driving and navigation elements so the health care professional can put more focus on patient care tasks. State‐of‐the-art mapping and Obstacle Detection Obstacle Avoidance (ODOA) technologies allow safe, fast and highly flexible navigation in a clinical environment.
  • An additional capability for the RP-VITA incorporates autonomous navigation and is being submitted to the FDA for 510(k) clearance. This capability will allow a remote clinician or bedside nurse to send the RP-VITA to a target destination with a single click, enabling a number of breakthrough clinical applications. InTouch Health anticipates clearance for this feature in Q4 2012.

  • Real-time access to important clinical data, enabling a range of new workflow improvements for physicians, nurses and other patient care team members. For example, the RP-VITA can be integrated with live patient data from the electronic medical record and is equipped with the ability to connect with diagnostic devices such as otoscopes and ultrasound. It comes equipped with the latest electronic stethoscope.

  • A new, simple to use iPad1 user interface will enable quick and easy navigation to anywhere the RP-VITA needs to go, as well as interaction with the patient, family and care team.

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