Doctors on Wheels: Robots Bring Physicians to the Patient Bedside


After just a few months, a telemedicine pilot is delivering results. New telepresence robots have helped LifeBridge Health physicians maximize their schedules to nearly double patient touches and eliminate the need to travel, whether walking to other floors in the hospital or driving to another location.

“We are maximizing our physician resources to focus on increasing time available for direct patient care,” says Jaime Simon, D.O., chair of the department of medicine at Sinai and Northwest hospitals and system chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine for LifeBridge Health. “This promotes efficiency, enabling us to spend our time doing the work where we are needed most—at the bedside. It allows us to see more patients and meet the community’s needs more effectively.”

The robots, in the form of a remotely driven tablet affixed to a wheeled pedestal, connect to a cloud-based system through wireless access. The physician controls the robot, maneuvering it to the patient’s bedside, where they can consult with the patient and even share the screen to show X-rays or MRI images for review.

The first robot was deployed in February at Levindale’s high intensity care unit and, soon after, a second provided assistance in pulmonary service at Northwest Hospital. In total, five robots are currently in service at Northwest, Levindale and Sinai hospitals.

LifeBridge Health is leveraging the technology previously used by large international corporations like Volkswagen, Ford, Apple, Microsoft and John Deere, which use this robot to communicate with factories overseas instead of absorbing travel costs for executives. 

“The robot adds nearly three usable hours to my workday to be productive and provide direct patient care that would normally be spent driving and walking,” says Dr. Simon. “It enables me to connect quickly to my patients and their families, face to face, regardless of my physical location.”