InTouch Health and iRobot's RP-VITA telemedicine robot has grabbed all the headlines being the first autonomous telemedicine robot to be cleared by the FDA. Another InTouch Health robot has also nabbed a starring role on one episode of the TNT surgeon drama "Monday Mornings." But these robots don't come cheap. They cost anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 per month said CEO Yulun Wang in a recent interview.
But what if you were simply looking for a telepresence robot with minimum bells and whistles? In other words, if facilitating communication between doctors and patients was your only priority, what options do you have? Here are a couple telepresence that are vying for a share of the healthcare market.
Vecna Technologies' VGo is an affordable alternative to InTouch robots, said Eugene Spiritus, the company's first chief medical officer. Here's how he explains it:
"The VGo approach is predicated upon the reality that the most important aspect of the physician interaction with patients, colleagues, families and other health care providers is communication," Spiritus said. "As a clinician, I’ve seen, in the past five years, a dramatic rise in the use of electronic medical records, and patient data can now be accessed from anywhere. When clinicians can’t be at the bedside the VGo provides a cost effective tool that allows us to visually assess patients and communicate with them at any time and from any place.
The VGo costs about $5,000. Today the company's several hundred robots can be found in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation centers, sub-acute hospitals and patients' homes.
“Today our healthcare system is challenged with an aging population, too few practitioners, and adjusting to a major change in its approach to patient care. With collaborative video solutions you can address access, prevention and wellness, and continuation of care, all of which becomes important as we try to tackle the problem of unnecessary rehospitalizations,” said Dr. Deborah A. Jeffries, Director Global Healthcare Marketing, Polycom, in a news release announcing the partnership.
Anybots and Polycom will now develop robots that will come with tablets running Polycom's RealPresence Mobile video software.
Robotics in healthcare will be a topic of discussion at the MD&M East Conference, June 17-20 in Philadelphia hosted by the publisher of MD+DI. It will include a presentation by InTouch Health CEO Yulun Wang.
-- By Arundhati Parmar, Senior Editor, MD+DI