Robots in Hospitals

The FDA approved the country’s first human-interacting autonomous robot for hospitals on Thursday. The RP-VITA, made by iRobot (best known to consumers as the makers of the Roomba) and InTouch Health, is a human-sized telepresence robot which allows doctors to remotely interact with hospital patients. The robot can navigate hospital corridors autonomously, while medical professionals talk and interact with patients through a special iPad app.

Article with photo. HT: Tyler Cowen.

Comments (9)

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  1. The Native Indian says:

    Hopefully this increases the supply of physicians being allowed to exercise their practice. Further, this implies that we could now Skype in doctors from other parts of the world to carry out their practice.

  2. Ken says:

    Do you suppose they will replace doctors?

  3. Neil Caffrey says:

    I feel like this robot could potentially slow down the interaction between doctors and patients, negating whatever positive affect that the robot can have. Too much reliance on technology.. I know that sounds funny since hospitals rely heavely on technology, but I can see the iPad malfunctioning, or the signal between the Doctor and Robot failing. In the time it takes to fix these problems, a face-face meeting could have already been conducted and evaluated.

  4. Andrew O says:

    I believe that if we continue to use technology to make our lives easier, then we ought to be receptive to this idea. It could be a little hypocritical to be against robots in hospitals when we’re constantly adapting and using technology nowadays…we’re all on computers typing on this blog through the internet after all.

    As with all technologies, these robots will face malfunction and there will be some trial and error, but I think if it makes the doctor’s job more effective and efficient, then by all means. We just need to proceed with caution first. But, at the same time, I am not sure how I feel about technology and modern society in general — I guess that since I’m still living in it and not going off to a indigenous tribe in the amazon, I can’t be too opposed to it…

  5. Angel says:

    Robot doctors in the future…scary thought. Some human doctors already act like robots though, so I guess it wouldn’t be much of a change for some.

  6. Buster says:

    Hollywood should produce a movie about an age when human workers are too unproductive and all manual labor is performed by robots. At the top of the hierarchy would be the stockholders, human managers and programmers. The assembly line would be robots. The lowest members of society would be unskilled human labor performing low-cost services that couldn’t be automated. When low-wage humans revolt, the elite humans would respond with force, using mechanized war robots led by an offer-class of human soldiers.

    OK, I concede the whole idea is far-fetched. Investments in capital actually increase wages, since it boosts productivity. But, for the sake of argument, watch this video of a robot wielding a chainsaw.

  7. Chaster says:

    I’ve always been of the idea that you can’t never compare the job an actual human being can do to that of a machine. It definitely sounds very innovative and appealing in many ways, but I don’t know if I would ever trust a robot as a doctor if I was ever in that position..

  8. Andrew O says:


    Your far-fetched scenario has occurred for thousands of years without the addition of robots. The robots wouldn’t necessarily increase our likehood of developing controlling and stratified societies…it already happens. I just think it would allow us to make certain aspects of our lives easier, but who knows.

  9. Gabriel Odom says:

    Buster, your link doesn’t work. I was really looking forward to watching a robot wield a chainsaw.

    We can all complain that some piece of technology will destroy our civilisation or our humanity, but it really already has. Let’s just enjoy the ride.

    “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” – Albert Einstein