COVID-19 and beyond: development of a comprehensive telemedical diagnostic framework
Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg. 2021 Jun 6. doi: 10.1007/s11548-021-02424-y. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: During the COVID-19 pandemic, a threatening bottleneck of medical staff arose due to a shortage of trained caregivers, who became infected while working with infectious patients. While telemedicine is rapidly evolving in the fields of teleconsultation and telesurgery, proper telediagnostic systems are not yet available, although the demand for contactless patient-doctor interaction is increasing.
METHODS: In this project, the current limitations were addressed by developing a comprehensive telediagnostic system. Therefore, medical examinations have been assessed in collaboration with medical experts. Subsequently, a framework was developed, satisfying the relevant constraints of medical-, technical-, and hygienic- aspects in order to transform in-person examinations into a contactless procedure. Diagnostic steps were classified into three groups: assisted procedures carried out by the patient, teleoperated examination methods, and adoptions of conventional methods.
RESULTS: The Telemedical Diagnostic Framework was implemented, resulting in a functional proof of concept, where potentially infectious patients could undergo a full medical examination. The system comprises, e.g., a naso-pharyngeal swab, an inspection of the oral cavity, auscultation, percussion, and palpation, based on robotic end-effectors. The physician is thereby connected using a newly developed user-interface and a lead robot, with force feedback control, that enables precise movements with the follower robot on the patient’s side.
CONCLUSION: Our concept proves the feasibility of a fully telediagnostic system, that consolidates available technology and new developments to an efficient solution enabling safe patient-doctor interaction. Besides infectious situations, this solution can also be applied to remote areas.
PMID:34091871 | DOI:10.1007/s11548-021-02424-y
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