Robot doctors take over hospital to reduce COVID spread

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The digi-doctor is in.

Dr. Spot, a dog-like mobile robot programmed to triage hospital patients, is the newest front-line health-care worker to join the fight against COVID-19. 

And while at first glance this four-legged creature might look like something out of your worst nightmare, people are actually doggone happy about it. 

“People are very positive and accepting of robotic systems in health-care settings, particularly during the pandemic,” MIT assistant professor of mechanical engineering Giovanni Traverso told The Post.

In a new study out this month, Traverso and colleagues Peter Chai and Henwei Huang found that patients are widely receptive to receiving medical attention from robots designed to evaluate symptoms in a contact-free way. 

They’re even willing to let robo-docs like Spot — made of aluminum, plastic and circuit boards — perform minor procedures on them, such as assessing their vital signs, taking a nasal swab or placing an intravenous catheter. 

“Early on in the pandemic we wanted to help protect the health-care workforce from the virus by limiting their exposure to potentially COVID-infected patients,” Traverso said.

“We wondered if we could do that by incorporating robotic systems in health-care environments, and if patients would be willing to engage with robots during their evaluations,” he said. 


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