The ‘bot, RP-VITA, combines InTouch Health’s telemedicine technology with iRobot’s Ava platform. The RP-VITA, which stands for "remote presence virtual + independent telemedicine assistant," is designed to allow doctors to direct emergency room or intensive care unit treatment from a remote location.
"It will be especially valuable in high-acuity areas where time-sensitive treatment decisions are critical, like in the ICU and Emergency Department, and that’s why those areas are the initial target markets. There are 6,000 EDs and 10,000 ICUs in the US alone, so we believe there is a significant market opportunity," chairman & CEO Yulun Wang told MassDevice.com in an email.
The device is the first flower of a pact the 2 companies struck last year for extensive cross-licensing of the their patent portfolios. The duo re-upped the deal earlier this year, with iRobot dropping $6 million on InTouch.
The RP-VITA is also the first entry in the health market for iRobot, according to iRobot chairman & CEO Colin Angle, who believes that the home healthcare market is the ultimate target.
"Extending independent living at home will ultimately turn out to be the killer app for robots," Angle said at an MIT Enterprise Forum in April. "It allows doctors and nurse to be able to afford house calls again. What that means is that you can get treated for 80% of the things you might need to go to a hospitals for simply by having a robot in your home. If the diagnosis says you need something unique, well then you go to the hospital and you get the care with the big machines that aren’t transportable. I think this is really within our grasp within our lifetime."
"We foresee many future opportunities in adjacent markets," Angle said today in prepared remarks.
The FDA last month expanded InTouch Health’s 510(k) clearance for its telemedicine devices to allow pre-, peri-operative and post-surgical monitoring for cardiovascular, neurological, pre-natal, psychological and critical care assessments and examinations.
Wang said acute care is poised for a reckoning as the healthcare system moves from a fee-for-service business model to a system driven by accountable care and outcome-based models.
"We see platforms like the RP-VITA bridging the era between healthcare as we have come to know it (pay-for-service) and healthcare as we are likely to see it evolve over the next 10 years," he wrote. "Looking forward over the coming 10 years, acute care medicine will be forced to evolve to enable better and more coordinated care all at lower costs."
Platforms such as the RP-VITA can help with that transition by lowering costs and improving efficiency in the ER and ICU unit, Wang said.