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Robots roll out to treat infectious diseases

infectious diseases

Chulalongkorn University teachers have developed telemedicine robots for use in Thailand to help with the assessment and treatment of infectious diseases.

The robots will initially be deployed at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute, Rajavithi Hospital and Central Chest Disease Institute.

Chulalongkorn University yesterday handed over the first three telemedicine robots to Khate Sripratak, cardiologist and president of the Chest Disease Institute’s medical staff organisation.

“Using robots will reduce the chance of infections [for medical staff]. Less contact means less chance of infection but without sacrificing the quality of the care,” Dr Khate said.

Telemedicine robots transmit and receive video, audio and can take measurements by connecting to other devices like otoscopes and ultrasound. They can also remind patients to take their medication and show videos to the patients to follow for physical therapy.

The telemedicine robots for use in the Thai healthcare system were originally developed by Prof Viboon Sangveraphunsiri, a lecturer in Mechanical Engineering and head of the Regional Centre of Robotic Technology, Faculty of Engineering at Chulalongkorn University to help take care of elderly and stroke patients.

 The new uses for the technology have arisen from a collaboration between the Faculty of Medicine and Engineering at Chulalongkorn University, the research team at King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital and two private-sector companies — Haxter Robotics Co and Softsquare Group.

In the future, the telemedicine robots will be deployed in hospitals across Thailand to help treat patients with infectious diseases, including the recently discovered coronavirus, according to the university.

The project, headed by Prof Nijasri Charnnarong, the chief stroke specialist of of Chula’s centre of excellence, was financed by Spearhead, a government funding project designed to link university departments with private sector enterprises to work on projects that benefit society.

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