Published Tuesday, 29 January 2013
The robot doctor in action at Daisy Hill hospital. (© UTV)
The Telepresence robot means doctors at Craigavon can help save the lives of their patients almost 40 miles away.
The technology is used for the first time in the Southern Health Trust - and the UK - to allow observation, treatment and interaction with those in the new High Dependency Unit.
So instead of having a doctor by the bedsides, the intensive care specialist is on a computer screen listening to heart and breath sounds of critically ill patients who need to be monitored closely.
Dr Shane Moan said the robot is the next best thing to having a doctor there in person.
"Having seen it in action, I think it's a real benefit to the care of patients who are unstable. These patients come in and we sometimes require the assistance of intensivists, so to have one virtually at the bed side is a real bonus in terms of patient care," he said.
"We will recognise deteriorations earlier, and hopefully avoid the need for patients to be transferred to the intensive care unit. If the patient does need to be transferred to the intensive care unit we will be more advanced in our plans for transfer at an earlier stage."
The Telepresence robot further enhances this service by ensuring that all patients, regardless of which hospital they are in, receive the same expertise at any time, day or night.
Dr Gillian Rankin
Up to 10 acutely ill patients can be treated at the £500,000 unit which was opened by Health Minister Edwin Poots.
The minister said the investment means improvements for patients.
"This use of new technology, in the form of the Telepresence robot, is at the cutting edge of innovation in our health service and makes the best use of health resources to the benefit of patients.
"Effective hospital networks and the use of innovative technologies are fundamental to the future of health care as recommended in Transforming Your Care," he explained.
The development is part of an ongoing modernisation programme for Daisy Hill Hospital and acute services within the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.
The Trust's Dr Gillian Rankin said: "This new unit brings together specialist medical and nursing staff to ensure that the most seriously ill patients, whether they have coronary, medical or surgical problems, receive the best possible care in a dedicated area."
© UTV News