Watch Tallaght Hospital's virtual robotic doctor in action

TALLAGHT Hospital was the first in the country to roll out a five-foot tall robotic doctor, which facilitates two-way communication between consultants and patients from a distance.

The new technology is a wi-fi enabled Segway-style robot called Lucy, which has a screen on top that facilitates communication between patients and consultants – who may be in another part of the hospital, city or country when a patient is admitted.

Controlled by the real doctor, robot Dr Lucy – whose name comes from a combination of the Latin word for sight and the name of St Lucia, who is the patron saint of sight – is available to work 24-7 and is already reducing waiting times for acute patients, who could be left waiting hours for a senior specialist’s medical opinion.

Now, after a patient has been triaged and accessed, a consultant can dial into Lucy, which currently works in the Acute Surgical Assessment Unit, and provide medical advice – which leads the patient to quicker treatment or therapy.

The technology also allows consultants to communicate with patients when Lucy does her ward rounds with a senior registrar, making consultants more available to patients in an advisory role.

A spokesperson for Tallaght Hospital, speaking in March of this year, said: “The development of Lucy is an innovation in healthcare that will allow for a reduction in patient waiting times.

“This will result in a more effective distribution of resource by increasing the frequency of hospital rounds, while also allowing staff to give greater focus to procedures as consultants no longer need to be physically present.

“Tallaght Hospital is the first hospital in Ireland to use this pioneering technology . . . and the development of Lucy and of the ASAU [Acute Surgical Assessment Unit] has been supported by the increased investment in capital infrastructure at the Hospital.”

Tallaght Hospital also said that Lucy represents a “great advance” in improving patient care, alongside demonstrating the role that technological development can play in advancing healthcare.

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