The robot doctor will see you now

| Print |  Email
Archives - May 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009

 

ATSrobotdoctor

Photo of the R-7 courtesy of InTouch Technologies

LA GRANDE Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande is a rural, 25-bed facility with no cardiologist on staff. Two years ago, a heart patient there would have had to drive three hours to Boise. But now patients can get instant, face-to-face appointments with a cardiologist without anyone driving anywhere.

Well, that’s not entirely true. The cardiologist has to drive EDGAR (“Educated Doctor-Guided Assisting Robot”) from its parking spot in the hallway to the patient’s room.

EDGAR is the keystone of Grande Ronde’s telemedicine program, which recently won the Outstanding Rural Health Organization of 2009 award from the National Rural Health Association. The robot allows specialists to consult remotely, saving patients the time and money of traveling to a larger hospital. Because of EDGAR, tiny Grande Ronde, which sees only 15 or 16 patients a day, has 16 staff members with special ICU training who beam in from St. Louis, Mo. Recently, the hospital hosted a distance-learning class on stroke care, avoiding travel costs for 30 nurses. The hospital plans to add remote dermatologists, a 24-hour pharmacy, and three-way consultation capability.

Meaghan McCamman, an NRHA manager, says rural hospitals face challenges such as recruiting and retaining qualified health-care workers. Their low patient volume and higher poverty populations also mean they have a much lower margin than urban hospitals.

Telemedicine addresses those issues, says Doug Romer, executive director of patient care services at Grande Ronde. Telemedicine attracts young health-care workers because it exposes them to expertise not usually found in rural hospitals, and it allows the hospital to recoup some costs by keeping patients on the ward.

The $45,000 wireless network necessary to make EDGAR work was paid for by St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. St. Alphonsus is the hub for remotely connected doctors and nurses at rural hospitals in Oregon and Idaho.

That money was a federal grant, so next year Grande Ronde will have to take on the approximately $4,500 it takes to run the program each month. But there’s no debate about whether to keep EDGAR, Romer says.

“Our board of trustees has recognized that technology is the future,” he says. “If we can provide the care without having to travel, that’s what we want to do.”

ADRIANNE JEFFRIES
 

More Articles

Bendafornia: What’s driving the Northern California migration?

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
bendiforniathumbBY KEN MAES

A huge migration from Northern California has contributed to average 16% growth per year since 1990.


Read more...

Preserving the Legacy

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A New York floral and gift business takes on the iconic Harry & David brand.


Read more...

Reader Input: Rx for Health Care

July/August 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers how Obamacare has impacted their business.


Read more...

Balancing Act

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY DAN COOK

The Affordable Care Act has triggered a rush on health care plan redesign, a process fraught with hidden costs and consequences.


Read more...

Child care challenge

September 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
0927OHSUhealthystarts-thumbBY KIM MOORE AND LINDA BAKER

Child care in Oregon is expensive and hard to find. We delved into the numbers and talked to a few executives and managers about day care costs, accessibility and work-life balance.


Read more...

Best Foot Forward

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Whether you're stepping out to work or onto the track, Pacific Northwest shoe companies have you covered.


Read more...

The 10 most successful crowdfunding campaigns in Oregon

The Latest
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
081915-crowdfundingmainBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

One of the hottest new investment trends has proven quite lucrative for some companies.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS