A robot that allows patients to communicate with doctors via a telemedicine system that can move around on its own has just received 510(k) clearance by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

The robot, called RP-VITA, was created by InTouch Health and iRobot and allows doctors from anywhere in the world to communicate with patients at their hospital bedside via a telemedicine solution through an iPad interface.

According to iRobot and InTouch Health, RP-VITA combines the latest from iRobot in autonomous navigation and mobility technology with state-of-the-art telemedicine, and InTouch Health developed telemedicine and electronic health record integration.

RP-VITA makes it possible for doctors to have “doctor-to-patient consults, ensuring that the physician is in the right place at the right time and has access to the necessary clinical information to take immediate action.”

The robot is used in ways that scientists have never before seen. In order to not get in the way of other people or objects, it outlines its own environment and utilizes a range of advanced sensors to autonomously move about a crowded space.

Irrespective of a doctor’s location, using an intuitive iPad® interface allows them to visit patients and communicate with their co-workers with a single click.

A clearance from the FDA means that RP-VITA can be used for active patient monitoring in pre-operative, peri-operative, and post-surgical settings, such as prenatal, neurological, psychological, and critical care evaluations and examinations.

InTouch Health is selling RP-VITA into the healthcare market as its new top-of-the-line remote presence device.

iRobot will keep searching for opportunities in neighboring markets for robots such as RP-VITA and the iRobot Ava™ mobile robotics platform.

Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot, explained:

“FDA clearance of a robot that can move safely and independently through a fast-paced, chaotic and demanding hospital environment is a significant technological milestone for the robotics and healthcare industries. There are very few environments as difficult to maneuver as that of a busy ICU or emergency department. Having crossed this technology threshold, the potential for self-navigating robots in other markets, and for new applications, is virtually limitless.”

Yulun Wang, chairman and CEO of InTouch Health concluded:

“Remote presence solutions have proven their worth in the medical arena for quite some time. RP-VITA has undergone stringent testing, and we are confident that the robot’s ease of use and unique set of capabilities will enable new clinical applications and uses.”

Written by Sarah Glynn