Robots are the next frontier in patient monitoring

We're always happy to read something about healthcare reform that talks about actually improving the quality of care or quality of life. In this instance, it's robotics. "If we can virtually connect doctors to patients who need it most, wirelessly monitor our aging population and keep patients healthier at home, we can dramatically reduce our nation's healthcare costs," Tandy Trower, director of Microsoft's robotics group, says in a Forbes feature article on robotics and telepresence technologies in healthcare. (That's right, Microsoft has a robotics group, too.)

Even iRobot, the company that brought us the Roomba automatic vacuum and Scooba floor washer, is getting into the healthcare act. iRobot CEO Colin Angle says that physicians could rely on remote diagnostic technologies--what he calls "telerobotics"--to keep track of patients, vital signs and all, at home rather than in a hospital bed. Already, such technology is being used in hospitals, but it's going to move into the home; an Atlanta-based firm called GeckoSystems is readying an eldercare robot for market.

The burning questions, of course, are who pays for such technology and will doctors be reimbursed for remote monitoring?

For further information:
- check out this Forbes feature