At this Noida hospital, Covid-19 patients have a humanoid friend for company

  • | Sunday | 13th September, 2020

Noida: In a step towards adapting emerging technologies in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, a private hospital in Greater Noida has deployed robots in the intensive care units to interact with patients. Developed by a Bengaluru-based start-up, the five foot tall artificial intelligence-enabled humanoid named ‘Mitra’ blinks its eyes while interacting with people, is able to recognise faces, manoeuvre using wheels, and has a high-quality touch-screen mounted display. Mitra launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ivanka Trump, advisor to US president Donald Trump, at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Hyderabad in November 2017.

Noida: In a step towards adapting emerging technologies in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, a private hospital in Greater Noida has deployed robots in the intensive care units to interact with patients. Developed by a Bengaluru-based start-up, the five foot tall artificial intelligence-enabled humanoid named ‘Mitra’ blinks its eyes while interacting with people, is able to recognise faces, manoeuvre using wheels, and has a high-quality touch-screen mounted display. Mitra launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ivanka Trump, advisor to US president Donald Trump, at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Hyderabad in November 2017.

A week ago, two Mitra were put on Covid-19 duties at Greater Noida’s Yatharth Super speciality Hospital, one of the four major hospitals in the district that is treating Covid-19 patients. Deployed to enhance the screening process and safeguard the health care staff, Mitra’s main function for now is to interact with patients, make video calls for them and hold sessions with doctors and psychiatrists, hospital officials said. “We have two such robots which were earlier deployed at the hospital gates for the screening process of visitors. Each costs ?10 lakh. They can take the temperature and assign a gate pass to those who are fit, and inform the health staff if anyone has a higher body temperature. A week ago, we kind of promoted one of the Mitras to work with the front-line Covid-19 staff of the hospital,” said Yatharth Tyagi, director, Yatharth Super Specialty Hospital.

“The robot is operated by a technician through a mobile application, and based on the appointments or need, it charts counselling sessions for Covid-19 patients with the doctor or psychiatrist concerned,” he further explained. Elaborating on the usage of robotics and innovation in the health care sector, Tyagi points out that though a robot or machine can’t replace the a health worker or doctor, it definitely eases their workload and keeps them safe by breaking the virus spread.

“For the well-being of patients, we don’t allow phones in wards. That is where the Mitras come to play. If any patient wants to talk his/her family, then Mitra can make a video call for them. Also, the patient who needs counselling get a session with the psychiatrist,” Tyagi said. According to doctors, the Mitra is proving helpful with patients.

“Such innovative interactions help stimulate the mind of a patient. For patients who are fighting the virus, seeing a humanoid with whom they can interact brings positivity, generates good hormones and helps with their mental well-being -- all these are things that Covid-19 patients direly need. Apart from that, Mitra also helps out the health staff,” said Dr Rahul Singh, head of the department, COVID-ICU, Yatharth Hospital. Yatharth Hospital currently has 260 active Covid-19 cases, and has successfully treated 1,120 patients so far.



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