Blogs and Bots

Hospital surgeryThe story about some possible future roles for blogging brought a number of comments from readers. Pito Salas at BlogBridge liked the hospital application I described and took it to the next level. He feels that aggregators (blog readers) do not have to be limited to displaying their results as a time-ordered series of posts. For example, BlogBridge recently introduced "Photo Feeds", where they display the results of a blog feed full of pictures not as posts but as a photo album. Taking this concept into the healthcare arena, Pito envisions the vital signs of a patient being taken every 15 minutes and placed into a blog feed. The aggregator would then display the information as a graph or chart. Seems to me this would have a lot of potential in the area of home healthcare such as the remote monitoring report I wrote about a year ago. Even beyond that, medications could be administered on an automated basis in response to an incoming feed of data from the hospital laboratory which in turn is receiving that data from automated samples taken at bedside.
Earlier this week, I got some hands-on experience with another healthcare solution which points to the future. Intuitive Surgical demonstrated their da Vinci® Surgical System in the Danbury Hospital auditorium. The emerging field of robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery has great potential to enable surgeons and hospitals to improve clinical outcomes and help patients return to active and productive lives more quickly after surgery. The da Vinci® robot has 10X 3-D vision and four mechanical arms. Those of us in attendance got to spend a few minutes at the console. It was quite an experience to operate the arms and pick up tiny pieces of rubber and move them around. Rather than traditional open surgery, the robot enables the surgeon to operate through four tiny incisions. It doesn’t replace the surgeon — it augments the surgeon’s ability. There is more precision and more flexibility. For the patient there is less bleeding and faster recovery. The surgeon would normally be seated at the console "operating" by manipulating the robot’s arms while looking through binocular-like lenses. Even the shaky hand of a coffee-drinking surgeon can be made steady as a rock. The surgeon could even collaborate with another surgeon who may be thousands of miles away!