So, You Are In Your Hospital Bed....

.... and a 5 foot tall pillar with a screen on top trundles up beside the bed and the person on the screen tells you he is your doctor, and how are you feeling? Welcome to a possible future, since telepresence is billed as the Next Big Thing and the iRobot folks got FDA approval last year to use their RP-VITA for use in hospitals. RP-VITA is a mercifully shortened version of Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant.

This "robot doctor" is from the folks that brought you the Roomba automated floor cleaning devices. This is a bit more sophisticated, and allows a doctor - who could be just about anywhere - to interact with you and your relatives. While he can't feel your tummy, he can see you on a high resolution display and ask you questions while smiling and appearing reassuring.

It's an attempt to save money and to allow the increasingly scarce resource (that is, a physician) to possibly cover more ground and get more done while maintaining at least a semblance of a "personal" touch.

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