A customer-service robot deployed at a hospital in Noida is patrolling the wards and helping COVID-19 patients connect with their loved ones. Along with connecting the patients to their family and friends, the robot, named 'Mitra' also counsels the patients to help them tide over the tough times and keep their anxieties at bay.
Mitra has a tablet attached to its chest, which allows the patients to see their loved ones and medical staff who cannot access the COVID-19 wards. It is also equipped with facial recognition technology to help people recall who they had interacted with previously.
"Mental health is an important aspect of Covid treatment and so we decided to start the service. There is a screen on the robot and through this, psychiatrists speak to patients and answer their queries. As most Covid hospitals do not allow phones inside the ICU, the robot can also make video calls and connect patients with their families," Dr Sunil Kumar, medical superintendent at Yatharth Hospital, was quoted as saying by The Times Of India.
Mitra, which is mainly used by patients who cannot communicate using phones, cost the hospital around Rs 10 lakh.
"It takes a lot of time to recover, and during this time, when patients need their families the most, they are unable to visit," Dr Arun Lakhanpal from the hospital was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Furthermore, Mitra also helps in remote consultations with specialists to reduce their risk of contracting the infection.
"We mainly discuss my health. I came here on Friday and now I have started feeling better. I am feeling very happy now," said Makhanlal Qazi, a retired government bureaucrat and COVID-19 patient who has used the robot to communicate with his family.
A similar robot is also being used at the hospital's non-Covid branches in Sector 110, Noida, and Sector Omicron 1, Greater Noida to screen patients for influenza-like illnesses (ILI). The robot, stationed at the hospital's entrance, asks visitors a few questions on symptoms and screens their temperature. If their vital's are normal, the robot prints an entry pass with the screening result, name, and photo of the person.