When I entered the MIT Health and Wellness Innovation “hackathon,” it wasn’t with high hopes. I felt our team from Children’s Hospital Boston had a solid idea to develop, but I’d taken part in similar collaborations that fell victim to personal disputes, group member apathy and overzealous leadership. This time I was wrong.
Our mobile robot, the VGo, has the potential to be a great tool, but when we’re not using it to make remote visits, it just takes up space in the patient’s house.
Dr. Nguyen felt the robot could be enhanced if the family could interact with it to ask questions, through some type of artificial intelligence, while the child played with some kind of game or character that would help them stay on their post-operative regimen. Full story »
Children and parents connect with home robots that "embody" their health care provider. (Image submitted by a patient at Children's Hospital Boston)
Robotic technology can take many forms. In the Department of Urology at Children’s Hospital Boston, we are evaluating a remotely controlled, videoconferencing robot on wheels to help transition our patients’ care to the home after surgery. This transition is a time of significant anxiety for all. In the hospital, children have around-the-clock care and monitoring; after discharge, families tend to lose contact with their physicians and nurses unless there is a problem or complication.
The robot we’re testing, the VGo, allows us to make virtual house calls. As children recover in familiar and comfortable surroundings, with their families around them, we can talk to them, monitor them, view their home environment, help parents assess their child’s status and answer their questions and concerns. We can sometimes identify errors and avoid complications before they require emergent and costly medical attention.
We’re often asked why we use this mobile robotic system, a relatively new and costly technology, rather than established, less expensive alternatives such as cell phones or computer-based videoconferencing programs like Skype or Facetime. Full story »