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UC Robot brings telemedicine into closer view

With projected nursing shortages and an increasingly older population, robots are playing a bigger role in Telemedicine. Meet the University of Cincinnati's "Flo-Bot," named for Florence Nightingale.

The approximately 5'5 rugged robot with video screen and eyes ten times stronger than a human moves around a room checking on simulated patients, as nursing students in another room control her. Emanuel Lewis guided them.

"If you double tap the right trigger the joy-stick on the other side that will look 320 degrees behind you, so you can see what's behind you before you move."

This 8-thousand dollar a month leased robot (commercial price, UC has a cheaper rate and a donation) can do a lot. UC Chief Officer of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Debi Sampsel says doctors or nurses, concerned about a patient after hours can operate it remotely from a laptop at home. They see you and you see them.

"When you are inside the robot you become the robot. I know that sounds very "Star-Warish."

It can do everything but touch, examining eyes, ears, and skin and listening to the lungs and heart. Dan Humpert is director of the newly formed collaboratory for medical innovation and implementation.

"The baby boomers are all getting older. There's way to0 many of us and there are not enough nursing home slots for all the baby boomers. There's not enough health care providers to keep the baby boomers in their home. So we've got basically a train wreck."

He and others are working on other innovations to be tested eventually in a smart house.