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UCLA Medical Center world's first hospital to introduce remote presence robots in the Intensive Care Unit


Remote monitoring of intensive care unit (ICU) patients has begun in the UCLA neurosurgery intensive care unit as an initial clinical test of the RP-6 mobile robot system. The RP-6 robot, made by InTouch Health, Inc., allows doctors to “virtually” consult with patients, family members and healthcare staff at a moment’s notice, even if miles away from the hospital.

Shortage of intensivists promotes need

With fewer than 6,000 practicing intensivists in the United States and more than five million patients admitted to ICUs annually, a nationwide shortage of intensivists exists. It has been demonstrated that patients who receive intensivist care in the ICU experience better outcomes and decreased lengths of stay in the ICU and hospital. However, only about 37 percent of ICU patients receive intensivist care due to shortages in this specialized field.

The UCLA clinical trial aims to demonstrate that through the use of the RP-6, intensivists will be able to provide additional monitoring from their homes and offices for ICU patients resulting in decreased morbidity, mortality, length of stay and cost of care. Funded through an assistance agreement with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command, Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (Ft. Detrick, Md.), the project is led by Dr. Neil Martin, chief of UCLA Neurosurgery.

Robot extends reach of UCLA intensivists

The RP-6 will be tested 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 live video image projected on a monitor. The ControlStation comes equipped with a joystick, which allows the physician to drive the robot to the patient’s bedside, control movements of the robot’s head and even zoom in to take a closer look at the patient or bedside monitors. To view a video demonstration of RP-6 at work, visit:

UCLA has combined the in-house electronic medical information system – Global Care Quest (GCQ) – a remote wireless mobile patient data system developed at UCLA -- with the RP-6 remote presence system; this technology integration allows UCLA intensivists to monitor and access their patients anytime from their homes and offices in a way not previously possible.

Project leader

Neil A. Martin, M.D., FAANS
Professor and Chief, Department of Neurosurgery
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

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