Photo supplied by Stellenbosch University.
Quintin is made by Double Robotic. Photo supplied by Stellenbosch University.
  • A robot called Quintin is one of the latest interventions helping Intensive-care specialist doctors at Tygerberg hospital, Cape Town.
  • The robot has been “employed” to help the specialists do virtual ward rounds – which can be done even from home. 
  • It will go a long way towards helping reduce the risk of his peer doctors catching the disease or spreading it to others. 
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage. 

A robot called Quintin is one of the latest interventions helping specialist doctors make ward rounds safer during South Africa’s Covid-19 pandemic. 

Intensive-care specialists at Tygerberg hospital, Cape Town, have called on the uniquely skilled Quintin, who can’t catch the coronavirus, to broadcast ward rounds on Covid-19 patients as well as reduce the risk of his peer specialists catching the disease or spreading it themselves. 

The robot has been “employed” to help the specialists do virtual ward rounds – which can be done even from home. So if a doctor is in isolation, but well enough to work, they can still provide medical advice. 

Watch Quintin in action:

“If any of the specialists gets the virus and is unable to physically go to work, we will be able to function remotely using the robot, from a phone or a laptop,” said Coenie Koegelenberg, Professor of Pulmonology at Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Medicine, which spearheaded the project

Quintin looks like a computer tablet attached to a Segway. Made by robotics company Double Robotics, it stays upright using gyroscope and accelerometer sensors in its base. The robot is controlled remotely by desktop, tablet or smartphone. It communicates between patient and doctor through a microphone and a zoom function and can relay vital signs of highly infectious patients.

Robots have been used in China to perform all sorts of roles in lockdown from making food to spraying sanitiser. Other Quintins have been used in Italy, for much the same purpose, says the university. 

Koegelenberg, started experimenting with virtual ward rounds in the intensive care unit (ICU) of Tygerberg Hospital shortly before South Africa’s lockdown. 

“On Wednesday 18 March, on my way home after many meetings, I wondered whether ‘virtual’ ward rounds in many ICUs could be feasible. I phoned my wife and shared my thoughts. I had thought of using a fancy ‘nanny cam’ she bought a few years ago.” 

 Koegelenberg’s wife Dr Suretha Kannenberg, a dermatologist, suggested using one from the Sunskill laboratory, a state-of-the-art clinical training facility at FMHS, instead. 

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