Visualize this. You were in a severe car accident while taking a vacation in the countryside. Your internal organs were traumatized and you were admitted into the nearest medical establishment. Unfortunately, it’s just a small clinic serving mostly outpatient services, with no expertise in ER trauma. Fortunately, they have a RoboDoc, a surgical robot which is controlled by consultingdoctors over the internet to perform the simple surgeries required by the clinic. Immediately, a call was made to get the next available trauma surgeon to synchronize with the RoboDoc. The operation was carried out. Your life was saved. The above scenario may sound far fetch, but it could soon become a reality.
Medical robotics has been in the limelight in the past half a decade. They are not true robots, being unable to perform tasks autonomously. Rather, they are tools which magnify the surgeon’s abilities by improving dexterity and accuracy while at the same time, make the procedures safer. In fact, the first medical robot (Intuitive Surgical’s Da Vinci Systems) has been approved and in use in the
Traditionally, there are four hurdles which impeded the tele-surgery described in the opening passage. These are high cost, poor portability, inability to palpate and limitations to communications. The Da Vinci Systems cost about $1 millions each. The high cost makes it prohibitive to smaller medical establishments as well as prevents widespread implementation of the standard. The current systems are also large and complex, requiring a large operating room as well as a long setup time, which makes impromptu usage of the machine impractical 
Encouragingly, a mechanical engineering professor Dr. William Peine from
As mentioned previous, two other hurdles in implementing tele-surgery would be inability to palpate and limitations to communications. One limitation of the minimally invasive surgery utilized by robots would be that the doctor would be unable to touch the patient’s tissue and use his sense of touch to diagnose the situation (palpation).  This prevents doctors from being willing to do tele-surgery. On another note, there is a reason why at present, the doctors situated themselves close to the medical robot. It is because the doctors can’t afford any delay in communications that might resulted in the robot lagging during the operation. 
Currently, to resolve the issues of robots being unable to convey the sense of touch, Dr Peine is planning to incorporate tactile sensors which would generate a color coded computer map to inform the surgeon of the textures the robot is “feeling”.
As for the question of communications, Imperial College London has a trial program of using robots to cover ward rounds. They have used robots to enable busy surgeons to give their patients post surgery care despite not being with them physically. Using a wireless network within the hospital, these robots have video cameras for the surgeon to do a visual inspection of the operation wounds. Various other medical instruments such as pressure meters and thermometers also allow the surgeon to make proper medical judgments. Although this does not resolve the issue of the communications lag, it does show that a framework to use robots as mobile representatives of the doctors is being developed and ready to be advanced into the next stage once reliable internet communications can be established.
Given the advances in wireless technology and the increasing bandwidth of the internet, it is not hard to imagine the medical robots being developed by Dr Peine merging with the rudimentary observation robots currently used by the Imperial College of London. How far fetch does RoboDoc seem to be now?