Local health care firm InTouch Health received $10 million in new investments this month to improve its robotic telecommunications device that allows doctors to observe patients via webcam.
The company’s Remote Presence RP-7 Robot is a doctor-controlled device similar to an internet video chat that can interact with patients in a hospital when an expert cannot be there. The robotic device functions in any hospital with wireless internet, is accessible from a computer workstation and is controlled with a joystick.
More than 250 hospitals are already utilizing this new technology.
InTouch Health Founder and CEOand UCSB alumnus Yulun Wang said the influx of new money, which came largely from a Michigan venture capital firm, will help the company further develop the product.
“The added capital allows companies like us to grow faster,” Wang said. “You want to be the lead and that’s why we decided to raise the additional capitol, so that we are very much in the leadership position in the market of telehealth.”
According to Wang, the device is now being used in hospitals as part of the Michigan Stroke Network and allows specialists to be on scene during the critical period after a life-threatening stroke.
Dr. Neil Martin, chief of neurosurgery at UCLA Medical Center, said he uses the RP-7 and that the telecommunications device saves time for doctors, nurses and patients.
“We recognize that leveraging the health care expert’s time offers the possibility of improved patient care, reduced length of stay and cost savings,” Martin said in an e-mail. “We are able to monitor and access our patients anytime from our homes and offices in a way not previously possible.”
Wang said the RP-7 has already been successful in saving patients.
“It has saved lives, without a doubt,” Wang said. “I’ve had people call me about how grateful they are that this technology is available. And it’s not that the technology saves lives, it’s that the technology allows for the right expert to be there.”
In addition to providing doctors with advanced technology, InTouch Health has provided UCSB engineering students with a job. Company Marketing Manager Jennifer Neisse said they have recruited a number of recent graduates into the firm.
“We are continually adding and growing here in Santa Barbara,” Neisse said. “We have quite a few engineers that were students at UCSB and we are growing here locally.”