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Advancements in Tele-Medicine

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Dr. Paul Vespa has an unusual way of making his rounds at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Vespa: 'Hi there, how you doing?'

Patient: 'Good, how about you?'

Dr. Vespa uses a robot to check on his patients. A camera mounted on his computer sends a live picture of himself to patients and Vespa uses a joystick to control the robot's movements.

Vepsa: 'Can you hold up your hands way up in the air for me?'

Patient: 'Yeah.'

27-year-old Kevin Sittner was admitted to intensive care unit for bleeding in his brain.

Doctors examined him in person, but he also had periodic visits from the robot.

"I thought it was pretty cool, I mean it's probably the next best thing to having the doctor actually coming in and talking to you. It feels like you're actually talking to the doctor. You can see his face there and he can see you."

Doctors can also control the robot from home. That way they can check in on patients whenever they need to."

"Right now we have a tremendous delay in our healthcare delivery, largely because we don't have enough physicians in enough locations so this can really revolutionize the distribution of patients to physicians," says Dr. Vespa.

Dr. Vespa also uses the robot to visit patients at other hospitals in Southern California, and he even sees patients in other countries.

In this digital age, patients like Sittner expect on demand service.

"I think it's just added comfort to a patient to know they can get care whenever they need it."

These robots are designed to help patients and doctors connect instantly without compromising care.

More than 700 of the robots are currently working in about 500 hospitals in the U.S.

The company that created them, InTouch Health, will start selling its newest version next month. That robot will be the first in its fleet to move and navigate on its own without the need of a joystick.

Written by Wendy Damonte

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