Doctor Paul Vespa has an unusual way of making his rounds at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Doctor Vespa uses a robot to check on his patients. A camera mounted on his computer sends a live picture of himself to patients and Vespa uses a joystick to control the robot's movements.
Kevin Sittner was admitted to intensive care unit for bleeding in his brain. Doctors examined him in person, but he also had periodic visits from the robot.
"I thought it was pretty cool," Kevin says. "I mean it's probably the next best thing to having the doctor actually coming in and talking to you. It feels like you're actually talking to the doctor. You can see his face there and he can see you."
Doctors can also control the robot from home. That way they can check in on patients whenever they need to.
Dr. Vespa says, "right now we have a tremendous delay in our healthcare delivery, largely because we don't have enough physicians in enough locations so this can really revolutionize the distribution of patients to physicians."
Doctor Vespa also uses the robot to visit patients at other hospitals in Southern California, and he even sees patients in other countries.
More than 700 of the robots are working in about 500 hospitals in the United States. The newest version, coming out next month, will be the first in its fleet to move and navigate on its own without the need of a joystick.