New robot technology at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon will allow patients in remote communities to receive real-time medical care.
The first demonstration of the Melody ultrasound imaging system took place at the University of Saskatchewan Tuesday morning.
The system is the first of its kind in North America, and will be used to treat patients in northern communities.
Director of Northern Medical Services Dr. Veronica McKinney said the system is a game changer.
“We’re going to actually get more people to actually get the care that they need, where they need it, at the time that they need it,” said McKinney.
The system connects a radiologist stationed in Saskatoon with a local nurse who positions the imaging unit as instructed.
The radiologist then holds and controls a handheld device, with movements replicated by the imaging unit in the remote location.
A videoconferencing feature allows the patient to see and speak with the specialist in real-time.
The Leslie and Irene Dubé foundation donated $300,000 to the RUH foundation’s “Greate.r.” campaign to fund the new tech.
“To have this technology right in your community, to be able to share with your family what’s happening immediately and be able to show them, is absolutely very different,” McKinney said.
The system is expected to limit wait times for patients in remote and rural locations who need an ultrasound.
It will also allow pregnant mothers to attend their appointments and check on their baby’s health without having to leave their families to commute to larger hospitals.
“With prenatal ultrasounds it’s very critical to know how that baby is developing because there are different interventions we may need to take and prepare for,” McKinney said.
It’s still being decided which communities will be equipped with the Melody system, but they’re expected to begin using the device by the end of 2017.