Uses and Applications of Telepresence Robots

Duke University

In serving online students, its often challenging to provide them with experiences that would normally require a physical or on-site presence, as is the case for online nursing students who need to master certain clinical competencies. So in looking for solutions, Duke University’s School of Nursing is using telepresence robots as an instructional tool for advanced practice nursing students to engage them from a distance in high fidelity life-like clinical simulations.

Have you ever seen a telepresence robot? It’s built on a giant wheel castor with an adjustable pole and an iPad mounted on the top, which uses video conferencing software to enable communication. Students can then remotely control the device using their tablets, computers, or smartphones maneuvering it around the room while panning or tilting the iPad screen and basically any direction. Manufactured by California-based Double Robotics, these amazing digital devices pave the way for students in Duke’s fully online Master of Science in Nursing program to work remotely with students in the university’s campus-based Accelerated Bachelor of Science Nursing program. And believe me, it’s a win-win on both sides.

By creating a virtual physical presence, telepresence robots enable these online graduate students to develop their coaching problem, solving, and communication skills as they provide quality clinical guidance in patient care to undergraduate nursing students. What’s more, as telemedicine becomes more prevalent these robots offer a unique opportunity for Duke’s nursing students to become fully proficient in the process. Empowering them to practice high-quality healthcare services without losing that all-important face-to-face patient connection.

This very creative hybrid teaching approach has received accolades from Duke University students and faculty alike, while also capturing the 2015 Biota Award for Technological Innovation in Healthcare Education, an honor that Drexel University’s own College of Nursing and Health Professions is proud to facilitate.

Quite often the difficulty in serving online students fully is providing experiences that generally require a physical presence. Such is the case with Duke University’s School of Nursing program and required clinical simulations. For online students, providing the clinical experience consistently when they do not attend in person was a challenge…that is until Duke invested in robotic telepresence.

California-based company Double Robotics is the manufacturer of the robot used in the Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) program at Duke, which is completely online. Jacqueline Vaughn, Margie Malloy, and Ryan Shaw, the innovators of the program, aptly named the first one JaMMeR, which is a play on their names.

Areas Where Telepresence is Employed

Using JaMMer, nurse practitioner (NP) students remotely work with their Accelerated Bachelors of Science in Nursing (ABSN) students durinapplications of telepresence robots in educationg clinical simulations. Through robotic telepresence, NP students have a virtual physical presence and are able to develop their coaching, problem solving and communication skills as they provide clinical guidance in patient care to the ABSN students.

What is a Telepresence Robot?

Through a device including tablets, computers or smart phones, the students can remotely control the DUSON robot. A telepresence robot includes a giant wheel caster on the bottom, a pole stretching to an adjustable height of 4-5 feet and an iPad mounted on top. While nursing practioner students use video conferencing software to be present. They can maneuver around a room and even pan or tilt in various directions, providing an experience that rivals a face-to-face physical presence and displays telepresence in education.