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UCLA Medical Center becomes first hospital to introduce remote presence robots in ICU

UCLA Medical Center has announced initial clinical tests of the RP-6 mobile robot system in its neurosurgery intensive care unit (ICU). The RP-6 robot, made by InTouch Health Inc. in Santa Barbara, Calif., allows doctors to "virtually" consult with patients, family members and health care staff at a moment's notice, even if miles away from the hospital.

Intensivists -- the physicians who specialize in the care of critically ill patients -- in the neurosurgery department at UCLA are using RP-6 to provide additional monitoring from their homes and offices of ICU patients in response to studies showing that intensivist presence in the ICU can decrease morbidity, mortality, length of stay and cost of care. The project, to be funded through an assistance agreement with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, located at Ft. Detrick, Md., will be led by professor and Chief of Neurosurgery Dr. Neil Martin, associate professor Dr. Paul Vespa and associate professor Valeriy Nenov, all of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

There is a nationwide shortage of intensivists. There are fewer than 6,000 practicing intensivists in the United States today and more than 5 million patients admitted to ICUs annually. Therefore, only about 37 percent of ICU patients receive intensivist care, yet having trained intensivists in the ICU results in better outcomes and decreased length of stay in the ICU and hospital. These specialists are familiar with complications that may occur and are therefore better able to minimize errors.

UCLA will test the RP-6 robot as a way to extend the reach of the intensivist. The patient sees, hears and interacts with the doctor through the nearly 5-foot-6-inch tall robot, which displays a live video image of the physician's face on its monitor/head. The physician, seated at a computer console called a ControlStation, also sees and hears the patient through a liv
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Contact: Dan Page or Elaine Schmidt
dpage@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
10-Mar-2005


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