Sunday, January 2, 2011

Robot Nurse Assistants?????

Vanderbilt Team Seeks To Bring Robotic Nurse Assistants To Eds

Computer engineers and emergency medicine specialists at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., think the time is approaching when robot assistants will help manage patients in the ED.

Mitch Wilkes, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, represented the team in presenting a paper, “Heterogeneous Artificial Agents for Triage Nurse Assistance,” about hospital ED robots earlier this month at the Humanoids 2010 Conference in Nashville.

Among the purposes of using robots would be to shorten patients’ waiting times and, by lightening the workload of ED staff, cut down on the number of mistakes that may occur. The cognitive robots would be able to gather medical information, take basic diagnostic measurements and offer tentative diagnoses to staff.

Robots would allow patients to enroll themselves via a robotic kiosk upon arriving in the ED, and have their vital signs recorded even without staff present. If the patient needs urgent care, the robots would immediately alert staff.

The robot prototype features a camera system and touch-screen display, and the capacity to measure weight, blood oxygenation and pulse. One possibility is to build triage nurse assistant robots into waiting-room chairs, while using more mobile robots to periodically check on patients’ conditions while they are in the waiting room.

Making the system a reality will take at least five years, according to team members.

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