Robot Assisted Surgical Ward Rounds: Virtually Always There

J Innov Health Inform. 2018 May 2;25(1):982. doi: 10.14236/jhi.v25i1.982.


While an explosion in technological sophistication has revolutionized surgery within the operating theatre, delivery of surgical ward-based care has seen little innovation. Use of telepresence allowing off-site clinicians communicate with patients has been largely restricted to outpatient settings or use of complex, expensive, static devices. We designed a prospective study to ascertain feasibility and face validity of a remotely controlled mobile audiovisual drone (LUCY) to access inpatients. This device is, uniquely, lightweight, freely mobile and emulates 'human' interaction by swiveling and adjusting height to patients' eye-level. METHODS: Robot-assisted ward rounds(RASWR) were conducted over 3 months. A remotely located consultant surgeon communicated with patients/bedside teams via encrypted audiovisual telepresence robot (DoubleRoboticstm, California USA). Likert-scale satisfaction questionnaires, incorporating free-text sections for mixed-methods data collection, were disseminated to patient and staff volunteers following RASWRs. The same cohort completed a linked questionnaire following conventional (gold-standard) rounds, acting as control group. Data were paired, and non-parametric analysis performed. RESULTS: RASWRs are feasible (>90% completed without technical difficulty). The RASWR(n=52 observations) demonstrated face validity with strong correlations (r>0.7; Spearman, p-value <0.05) between robotic and conventional ward rounds among patients and staff on core themes, including dignity/confidentiality/communication/satisfaction with management plan. Patients (96.08%, n=25) agreed RASWR were a satisfactory alternative when consultant physical presence was not possible. There was acceptance of nursing/NCHD cohort (100% (n=11) willing to regularly partake in RASWR). CONCLUSION: RASWRs receive high levels of patient and staff acceptance, and offer a valid alternative to conventional ward rounds when a consultant cannot be physically present.

Keywords: face validity; robot; surgical care; telemedicine; ward rounds.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Remote Consultation / methods*
  • Robotics / instrumentation
  • Robotics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surgeons
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Teaching Rounds*
  • Virtual Reality*