No. of Recommendations: 1
I don't think robots can replace emergency room physicians--which is what my soon-to-be DIL is training for.

I think robots and telepresence CAN replace emergency room physicians... in certain contexts.

Here are some of them:

* Very small hospitals. Where they don't actually need an ER physician most nights, and when they do they have to call him at his home and wait for him to put some clothes on and come to the hospital. A pool of three ER physicians could serve a dozen or more such hospitals remotely, and give them all BETTER coverage than they normally get.

* Overloads. As an extension of the above, a hospital could supplement doctors actually present with remote doctors when hit with a big rush. The odds are that two hospitals some distance from each other won't be hit with big rushes at the same time, particularly if they are a couple of time zones apart, so they can share doctors.

* Specializations. Say, tropical diseases. One tropical-disease specialist is probably more than sufficient for emergency rooms for the *entire* state of Montana (plus Wyoming and both Dakotas)... if he could just anticipate where in the state he's going to be needed. With telepresence, he can apply his skills where he's needed without regard to where he is.

Story: about a year ago a van rolled over on the freeway near here. Ten people on board, only one seat belt in use. I don't think the local hospital has ten patient beds. Saying the ER was slammed is putting it mildly; in fact they had to borrow the high school football field to park medevac helicopters. I suspect they would have been thrilled to be able to bring in another physician (I think that would have been the third) by telepresence. Now this happened at about 10 AM; imagine if it had been 2 AM...
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