Medical robot in Saskatchewan is connecting doctors to faraway patients

REGINA — A new medical robot in Saskatchewan is connecting doctors with patients who would otherwise have to travel long distances for appointments.

The robot, called PeTir (pronounced Peter), has been on the job at Regina General Hospital for nearly six months.

He’s not a doctor himself, but he’s controlled by one.

Using an internet-connected laptop, a doctor can control the robot, speak with a patient and examine charts or X-rays.

A video screen that serves as PeTir’s head allows the patient to see the doctor’s face.

Two similar robots are currently being used in Saskatoon and the northern community of Pelican Narrows.

Hospital officials say each unit costs just over $200,000, but they say the savings could far exceed the cost.

“In my mind, this technology is unstoppable,” said Dr. Ivar Mendez of the University of Saskatchewan.

During a demonstration on Thursday, Mendez simply logged on to a website and was able to control and drive PeTir around.

PeTir is equipped with stethoscopes and ultrasounds, letting a doctor listen to the heart or see an unborn baby without actually physically being next to a patient. The camera is so good it can clearly see the pupil of the eye. The robot can even print off prescriptions.

“In the future we will be using this technology for all types of medical care throughout not only our province, but the country and the world,” said Mendez.

“I am proud that our province is at the national and international forefront of implementing this technology.”

A total of $220,000 from the Hospitals of Regina Foundation donor Partner Technologies Incorporated helped bring PeTir to life.

(CJME, CTV Regina)

 

CJME, CTV Regina, The Canadian Press

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