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Do Robots Have Bedside Manner?

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Do Robots Have Bedside Manner?

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In a technology-minded world, doctors are using robots and treating patients remotely. A cost-saving measure but at what price to the patient's morale.

Next to jobs, health care is one of the biggest talkers when it comes to simply trying to survive in this economy. And a recent article in the New York Times on advances in medical technology is worth some thought. 

Our reliance on technology is pretty much second nature to us now. From laptops, to desktops, to smart phones we rely on automation to computerization from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep. It permeates our lives when we are sick and when we are well.

It's not  brand new, but  the idea of  a robot with the face of a doctor hundreds of miles away is still rather startling. In this case the doctor was in Sacramento 260 miles away from his patient in Bakersfield and rendered a life and death decision about administering a drug to save the patient's life.

It's all great--access to an expert the patient wouldn't ordinarily have; a cost-saving measure so you don't have to pay a top notch specialist to be in your hospital.

But with technology on the fast-track, hopefully we won't acquire a "phone it in" or "Skype it in" mentality, because having had several friends and family in hospitals with serious illnesses, even a personal visit from the doctor who's the one actually treating you is an uplifting experience.  Human contact like a hand on the shoulder has a healing effect. Although I am no doctor, I think we've all seen its positive effect.

It does bode well for our aging friends and family. At some point, the article mentions robots in the future will help them remain independent longer as a way of checking in on older people to make sure they're taking their medicine on time.

While getting the state's best doctors into your hospital room remotely has its major advantages, don't discount having a doctor in the flesh, for that face-to-face consultation.

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