May/June 2008

Saint Joseph of Kentucky Implements Bedside Robots


06-08-Robot

Saint Joseph Health System of Kentucky is implementing robots that use advanced, two-way telecommunications technology. Physicians who are miles away can use the robots to see, hear and interact as though they were actually in the room with a patient.


Saint Joseph Health System of Kentucky is implementing robots that can improve health care by connecting patients with physicians who are miles away. Saint Joseph, the first health care organization in its region to implement the robots, is installing them in all seven of its hospitals. Standing about five and a half feet tall, the robots have computer screens for heads and real-time, two-way video cameras and microphones for eyes and ears. From miles away, a physician can control a robot — moving it around a patient’s bed, tilting and pivoting the video-screen head, viewing vital signs on monitors and equipment and listening to heart and lung sounds — to examine patients. Physicians connect to the robots via wireless, broadband Internet connections from their homes, offices or clinic computers. The technology will give patients quicker access to physicians and specialists at other Saint Joseph hospitals. “This new technology will allow patients in our smaller communities to seek specialty care closer to home, without the need to travel long distances,” said Gene Woods, chief executive officer of Saint Joseph. “The robots are not meant to replace health care workers or the compassionate bedside manner and human touch Saint Joseph is known for, but will serve as another tool to extend and improve health care delivery to our patients.” For more information, contact Jeff Murphy of Saint Joseph at jmurphy@sjhlex.org.