By: Angela Koenig
The votes are in, and the UC College of Nursing’s InTouch RP-7 robot now has a name—Flo-Bot, in honor of Florence Nightingale. The name was decided by popular vote and was submitted by College of Nursing alum Patti Porter, who attended Flo-Bot’s debut on Tuesday, Dec. 18. That’s when Porter, faculty, students, staff and other guests of the college were permitted to take Flo-Bot for her first official spin around the college’s simulation lab.
The college is looking to robotics to assist with the projected nurse and nurse educator shortages and has invested in telehealth technology to prepare students for transforming environments and ensure workforce readiness, says Debi Sampsel, the college’s chief officer of innovation and entrepreneurship. The robot, Sampsel says, is planned to be located in a community-based setting as part of a research study on effectively extending the reach of faculty, other health care providers and the aging nursing workforce. Telehealth robots are used in the health care field to provide medical access to facilities that do not have advanced degree specialists on staff and to overcome geographical limitations.
"As a researcher and practitioner, I am so excited about the potential this has for the whole continuum of care to come together to address national problems such as readmission rates and health care delivery to the underserved,” says Sampsel, who has vast experience in robotics and came to UC recently to forge relationships that will provide student nurses experience in telehealth services at community clinics in Greater Cincinnati.
Sampsel served as principal investigator on the first faculty/student research study using a remote presence robot in a human patient simulation setting. She also designed and implemented the Living Laboratory Smart Technology House: a high-tech, two-story house that models an intergenerational home environment, where students and health care professionals learn to care for patients in their own homes rather than in a hospital or nursing home setting.
The college, through the Intraprofessional Innovation Collaboratory, is also working with colleges across the university to include physicians, engineers, business majors and allied health majors in robotic care delivery. Combining remote control robotics and remote presence technologies, the RP-7 allows a remote clinician to see and interact with patients and staff while proactively and independently managing care delivery just as if they were physically present on-site.
"Our strategic plan addresses the use of technology to provide students with more hands-on real-world experience. In order to accomplish that, I saw the wisdom in having the robot here to launch our new telemedicine center,” says College of Nursing Dean Greer Glazer, PhD.
This robot was made possible by a gift from Ed and Jean Wedbush to the College of Nursing, where the monthly teleconnection fee is $1,600. For health care facilities, the lease cost of a robot and associated support services averages $8,000 a month.