Thursday, March 30, 2006

Robot Doctor

By:WANG LIWANG "U0205321"
A few days ago, the local news from Channel5, 8 and U reported that a Taiwan Hospital bought a few Mobile Robot Doctors from UK and put them into operation for daily nursing and performing ward rounds. The robot is equipped with video camera and a LCD panel for display as shown in the photo. It is remotely controlled by doctor with joystick. The robot doctor itself does not provide any form of physical examination, but it proves a mobile platform for communication between doctor and patients. With which, doctors can do his/her routine at different places, as many doctors with specialize skill and knowledge are required to be in several places. The robot checked up on patients, asked them how they were feeling, inspected their surgical sites to ensure proper healing, and answered questions. There is no intelligent in the robot, a laptop with a web cam can eventually perform the same task. And even through there is a display video of doctor in the monitor, it can never give the sense of interact with real doctor. As a doctor form the hospital said, "Our robots would never replace all doctors on ward rounds, but they are a communication tool which allows a doctor to have direct contact with their patient". Such an application shows another potential of a robot being used in medical area. It may not have precise control like surgery robots, but it also makes doctors work easier and more convenient. Interestingly, in NUS control lab, we also have a similar robot, it’s created as a robot usher, with its facial display by LCD and sonar sensors, stereo cameras for path planning. It should be smarter than the robot doctor above, as it can follow people by navigate itself and avoid obstacle in its path.

[1] "Does Dr Robot usher in new era of metal medics?" --

[2] "First robot doctors start work in UK hospitals" THE GUARDIAN , LONDON Friday, May 20, 2005,Page 6


u0205295 Li Lei said...

In my opinion, it is a kind of communication tools instead of a robot. As it is mentioned, only laptop with a web cam can eventually perform the same task. However, I think such a robot is useful to some of the patients who want to consult those famous doctors all over the world, and both time and cost can be saved.

Home said...

u0300510 Chen Yanchang

It sounds more like a video conferencing tool mounted on a remote controlled mobile platform rather than a robot that can operate autonomously. Especially since it has no intelligence at all.

I think a further improvement that would at least qualify it to be a robot is that this "Robot doctor" is able to locate the individual patients in their wards without the need for a joystick. Thus, the doctor would just have to wait for the robot to locate the patient instead of having to navidate around the hospital.
This would mean the robot would also have to have some form of collision aviodance algoritim, sensors and path planning capability.

I could imagine that this robot can also developed to make some simple tests on the patient for the physically absent doctor. For example, it might be useful if it could take the patient's temperature using those infra-red thermal imaging sensors that were used for SARS.

I should think that this would make it even more useful.

Medical said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Medical said...

U0307654 Lian Weiwen, Mervyn

I agree with the others that this does not seem very much like a robot because its motions are manipulated by humans. I would think that the personal touch of a doctor would also be very much irreplaceable. Furthermore, it lacks the limbs of the human doctor to act if the patient suddenly enters a serious medical condition like cardiac arrest etc.

Rajen said...

U0206727 - Rajen Suchede

Well. Lets put it this way - Its a communication device attached to a mobile robot since it still goes to patients and asks them how they are feeling (though its still the doc on the other end whose asking them, but it is controlled to move to the patients!). This technique is actually very popular and is termed "telemedicine". The current state is ideal. I would definitely not want a robot to operate on me. Its fair enough to allow the doc to advice the others doc's in the O.R on the surgery but allowing the doc to use the device remotely to perform the surgery, no way!

Edutainment said...

u0205159 Du Xing

Contrary to beliefs, being operated on by a robot surgeon is much safer and robotic surgery could reduce bleeding and cause less harm to cells.
Robotics are being introduced to medicine because they allow for unprecedented control and precision of surgical instruments in minimally invasive procedures.
The 3D Urologic Research Centre in Kuala Lumpur Hospital has established the most famous 3D robotic surgery in Asia.

u025445b lau duan neng said...

I concur that with this mobile robot doctor, time can be saved on daily nursing and performing ward rounds. For most cases, the doctor usually does the checking up on patients alone. It was mentioned that the robot will inspect the patients' surgical sites to ensure proper healing, but it is seen that there is no "hands" on the robot. If the surgical site is out of reach of the patient, it will be quite hard for the patient to show the surgical site to the doctor. Here's my apologies if I have misinterpreted it wrongly.

Moreover, usually all the details about the patients' conditions are recorded in a file and placed at the respective beds. Would this mobile robot doctor cause more inconvenient in the sense that the doctor has to find what's the name of the patient and then search for his conditions on the computer? Or they have a way that save this hassle?

Oh yah, just curious about the video camera. How is the real-time telecommunication being carried out?

U0204870 Lee Wai Yeung said...

As mentioned in the post, the robot doctor is not meant to replace human doctor. The effectiveness of this robot depends on how well the patient is able to tell the 'doctor' in what way he or she is sick. What if the patient is unable to talk? Or the patient is a child who could not express his or her illness accurately? These are probabily some of the robots' limitation.

Also for some illness, it may not be able to be detected by observation and physical examination. Example of such examination is mental illness. The patient is just as a health person physically. However, the problem could only be detected through conversation and observation with the patient. These are probably something that the robot doctor couldn't achieve.

Future research could probably focus more illness that couldn't be easily detected through physically examination.

Home said...

u0303819 Ang Yong Chee

supposed i am a patient lying in bed and such a robot doctor comes by to see how i am doing , i wont be as happy and satisfied as the situation where the doctor comes in person .

Surely almost anyone will prefer a real human doctor who is able to examine him (the patient) closely and talk to him to a moving video cam . Obviously , the robot lacks the human touch as needed in a medical profession. It might even be seen as a form of disrespect or insincerity for some patients ...

Yes , hosptials may be shorted- handed and using such robots can also reduce costs ...but are we going to let the service standard of our medical industry goes down by letting these robots take over the presence of our doctors , even for just part of their daily routine ?

Medical said...

Chan Hwa Huei U0308279
The robot does function more as a communication device, rather than as a n autonomous robot. However, we are still many years away from entrusting the lives of patients to the hands of autonomous robots (without any human doctor's supervision). This particular robot could do routine checks without a doctor to control it, thus it could not be use to alleviate understaffing problems in hospitals. However, it is not without its advantages, since it allows reknowed doctors, from other parts of the world, to interact with a patient, thus saving valuable travelling time. Another advantage of this system is that it allows doctors to interact with patients, who are stickened with extremly contagious diseases. Given enough time, I'm sure that the robot could be upgraded to be able to conduct medical checkups on patients.

Medical said...

Woo Handa Raymond

I personally feel that this kind of robot application is very useless and a waste of time.

Firstly, the article mention that the robot do not give any physical examination, then later it mention that they have the capability to inspect their surgical sites to ensure proper healing. Can I ask is there a contradiction in this two portion of the statement in this article. I guess the only way is to inspect is to let the doctor view the patient's surgical sites through visual aid of the LCD monitor that are equipped on this robots.

Somehow, it give me the feeling that this kind of application is not very useful. I do not agree that is very beneficial at all, instead I feel that doctors should personally attend to the patients and communicate with the paitents personally, in this way the patients will be more self assured of their conditions rather than using this form of communication.