Public Release:  Robot joins Nursing Institute of West Central Ohio to address faculty shortage

Wright State University

The Nursing Institute of West Central Ohio today unveiled a new addition to the regional nursing education community--a robot.

Developed by InTouch Health® from Santa Barbara, California, the Remote Presence Robotic System (RP-7™) will allow nursing faculty members to interact with students from remote locations. The Nursing Institute, headquartered at Wright State, will be the first location in Ohio to have access to this robotic technology and be the first nurse education center in the nation to use the RP-7 for educational purposes.

"We will be using the RP-7 for a year in a pilot project to determine how it enhances the teaching environment," said Debi Sampsel, executive director of the institute. "It will allow the professor to move, see, hear and talk as though they were actually with the students. As baby boomer nurses in education approach retirement, this technology will provide them with a new career option. This cutting-edge technology makes it possible for nursing faculty with chronic disorders or disabilities to continue to contribute to nursing education. It provides a seasoned workforce faculty with an option to work while on vacation or in retirement from anywhere in the world. The RP-7 is an innovative way to address the faculty nursing shortage."

Patricia Martin, Ph.D., dean of the WSU-Miami Valley College of Nursing and Health, said this robotic technology puts the Nursing Institute ahead of the curve. "I am very excited about the unlimited potential and futuristic possibilities of the RP-7. It provides us with a glimpse of how technically savvy faculty can continue to be engaged in nursing education," Martin said.

Sampsel explained that the RP-7 "will provide a means for faculty to try new teaching approaches, expand their technological skills and explore the world of different health care modalities that may be incorporated in future delivery sites."

InTouch Health has deployed more than 100 robots to hospitals nationally and internationally. The value of the robotic system in these situations is supported by studies showing patients would rather talk with their doctor through the robot than to be attended to by a physician they don't know. "In the future, we want to bring the bedside success of this project to a clinical training site," added Martin.

Yulun Wang, Ph.D., chair and CEO of InTouch Health, said, "We are excited that the Nursing Institute has chosen our technology to extend their expert nursing resources to a new arena. The remote nursing education application is the first of its kind using Remote Presence to address the shortage of health care professionals. The RP-7 truly brings innovation to those who teach and train nurses."

The RP-7 weighs about 200 pounds and stands five and half feet tall, with a flat-screen monitor mounted on the top. A camera serves as the eyes to capture images of the students that are transmitted to the professor. When in use, the professor's face is displayed on the robot's monitor. The robot is linked to the Internet by a broadband connection. All the professor needs at the remote site is a laptop computer and self-contained package from InTouch Health.

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Sampsel said the institute is leasing the RP-7 for one year through assistance of the Greene County Community Foundation and the Morgan Family Foundation. Congressionally funded federal monies and Wright State University supports staffing for the project.

For more information, contact Sampsel at (937) 775-3940.

About InTouch Health: InTouch Health is a privately held company based in Santa Barbara, California. The company is pioneering Remote Presence technology and clinical solutions for hospital providers. Through a proprietary technology platform that uses robotics and the Internet, the RP-7 Remote Presence System enables health care clinicians to be at the point of care any time, from anywhere. The InTouch Health solution leverages the time and expertise of heath care professionals across hospitals, improving patient safety and satisfaction, as well as hospital efficiency and effectiveness. For more information, go to http://www.intouchhealth.com

About the Nursing Institute of West Central Ohio: The Nursing Institute was established in 2004 in an effort to keep the growing nursing shortage from crippling the health care of the region. With a mission of recruiting and retaining nurses, the Institute brings together nurses, administrators, educators and employers from a 16-county area in West Central Ohio. The Institute is headquartered at Wright State. The Nursing Institute is composed of three focus areas: the Nursing Education Center for nursing student recruitment and retention; the Professional Practice Center for nursing practice and practice improvement including continuing education; and the Research Evaluation Center for research and evaluation activities to identify best practices in nursing recruiting, retention and practice. Partner schools in the Nursing Institute are Wright State University, Cedarville University, Clark State Community College, Community School of Nursing, Edison State Community College, Indiana Wesleyan University in Beavercreek, Kettering College of Medical Arts, Miami University of Ohio, Sinclair Community College, Southern State Community College and Urbana University. Other partners consist of health care providers, the Veterans Administration and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. For more information, go to http://www.wright.edu/nursinginstitute

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