The Robot Doctor… A Line of Defense Against the Virus in a Saudi Hospital
As the entire world is practicing "social distancing" and "working from home", robots have found an opportunity to work. This is especially the case in medicine, which has become one of the most dangerous fields, with medical workers and doctors fighting on the frontline against the virus.
Despite being susceptible to technical viruses, robots are not susceptible to viruses like the new coronavirus. This has made robots more valuable now, acting as a link between the patient on the one hand, and nurses and doctors on the other.
Saudi Arabia has employed artificial intelligence systems to confront the virus in order to reduce the risk of transmission to medical teams fighting the virus. They are using robots that move between patients and have several features that protect doctors and nurses from the psychological pressures of examining patients.
B2, a robot doctor, commenced work in King Salman Hospital in Riyadh at the beginning of the month. B2 conducts rounds with the medical team to examine and assess patients in a ward that hosts 27 cases.
The robot has a variety of features; using medical equipment attached to it, it can clinically examine the patient, measure their pulse, conduct an eye exam, and examine their skin, ears, and chest. The robot also serves as a means of visual communication between the patient and the human doctor who controls the robot using a mobile application from a separate room or from outside the hospital. The robot knows very well how to navigate the hospital floor and reach patient rooms. Once in the number of the room on the application is typed, the robot directly attends to it.
Internist and rheumatologist, Dr. Nizar Adnan Bakhsh, director of the Department of Internal Medicine at King Salman Hospital, says that they have started practicing Telemedicine by using modern technology to create a link between the patient and the doctor. He said that this helps in keeping healthcare workers safe and reducing the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.
In a phone call with Asharq Al-Awsat, Dr. Bakhsh says that so far there is only one robot that doctors can use to communicate with patients in isolation around the clock, both from inside and outside the hospital, "using a global network that guarantees that connectivity is maintained without interruption”.
B2 is considered to be one of the new doctors in the Ministry of Health’s pilot phase of confronting the virus.
Cyber-medicine provides doctors and other healthcare workers with the chance to provide care and carry out consultations without having to be at the patient’s bedside. It also provides the chance to consult with doctors outside of the hospital, inviting them to a cyber-medical consultation using the robot