Lahey Clinic turns to robots in face of specialist shortage

A shortage of critical care physicians and other specialists at community hospitals has led the Lahey Clinic to provide telemedicine robots to under-staffed facilities in Massachusetts and Bermuda. A computer screen on top of the robot lets the patient see the remote physician's face, while a robot-mounted camera allows the specialist to see the patient via telemedicine. The robots also carry stethoscopes and connect the doctor to in-room vitals monitors.

Though in place for just a few months, the system already has prevented at least one leg amputation at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in Bermuda, the Boston Globe reports. Burlington, MA-based Lahey also has deployed a robot to Beverly (MA) Hospital and has three more units ready to place in other New England facilities. Though Lahey won't say what the machines cost, the manufacturer says each robot usually leases for between $6,000 and $8,000 a month.

For details on this new approach to telemedicine:
- check out the Boston Globe article