Connected

Virtual care news and views

May 25, 2018

Implementing virtual care: From text messages to robots

By: Gillian Wansbrough

Research

With the nearest physicians 350 km away in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Rosie, an RP-712 remote presence robot, is delivering care to residents of the isolated community of Nain, on the northern coast of Labrador.

FDA-approved Rosie connects patients to care when a doctor is not present, supporting timely access to care and avoiding the need for patients to travel such a prohibitive distance.

Since 2010, doctors have been able to remotely direct Rosie to move around and interact with patients, as well as leverage the robot to read ultrasounds and double check prescriptions. Clinicians have reported being very satisfied with the robot and indicate that it supports professional collaboration when caring for patients.

Profiles in Virtual Care Delivery, a paper put out by Digital Health Canada in collaboration with the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), features Rosie’s story and other real-world examples of virtual care application, like that of Vancouver’s Oak Tree clinic.

Oak Tree integrated a text messaging service to maintain communication between HIV-positive individuals attending the clinic and care providers. Patients receive a weekly check-in text message asking about their health, and they are expected to reply within 48 hours. If a problem response is received, it gets triaged to the appropriate healthcare provider for followup.

The approach encourages patients to be proactive about their health and provides reassurance that they have direct and timely access to support.

A free electronic copy can be downloaded from the Digital Health Canada website.

About the author: Gillian Wansbrough is a writer and the editor of Connected, as well as manager of communications at OTN.