In an attempt to better protect the staff and patients of Hořovice hospital, its management has reinforced the control on the entrance by “employing” a humanoid robot called Pepper. For some time now, patients entering the healthcare establishment in Hořovice (a Czech town, some 50 kilometres South-West from Prague) have been greeted and instructed by Pepper, instead of a real person.
Doctor Pepper, however, does much more than alleviating the pressure on hospital staff. Apart from measuring body temperature and delivering instructions, he also brings a little joy to the day of the visitors.
Bringing healthcare innovations to the fight against COVID-19
The entrance to the Hořovice hospital is located in front of the central reception, and this is the place which most of the COVID-19 patients will pass. Upon arriving, the visitor is welcomed by a friendly human-like creature tasked with making their transition to the interior of the hospital safe and smooth.
Pepper will first measure the body temperature. To do that the visitor must place their face in front of the thermal image screen. Then, he will automatically disinfect their hands. The entire process is also monitored by a camera system which allows monitoring at a distance whether the patient is following the directions received.
For the time being, Pepper stands at the main entrance of the hospital but the establishment is also considering adding more robots in areas designed for electronic registration, as explained by Tomáš from Hořovice Hospital for the institutional website.
Czech Radio pointed out that Doctor Pepper was initially meant for the children’s ward, in order to bring some joy to the days of the young patients. However, due to the health emergency caused by the novel coronavirus and the acute lack of medical personnel, he got “promoted” to the hospital’s reception, where he now gives relevant directions.
The 1.2 metres tall 'doctor' can speak, and move his head and arms. And just like many healthcare professionals today, he can take a 12-hours shift without a pause for recharging.
Finally, on top of being a helping hand to the already exhausted medical personnel, Dr Pepper seems to be doing a great job in identifying patients potentially infected with the new coronavirus and giving clear instructions. What is more, as he is still a novelty, he has turned out to be quite popular with patients, who rarely disregard his instructions.