COLLEGE STATION, Texas —

Meet Dr. Stan.

He may not look like much more than Skype on wheels but this roughly five-foot-tall telepresence robotic platform offers Baylor Scott & White ICU patients access to physicians hundreds of miles away. 

“There aren’t enough critical care doctors really around the country for all the critical care needs so we have to find new ways to extend our reach,” said Dr. Vince Scott, a Baylor Scott & White ICU physician.

The Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in College Station welcomed its new, non-human hire to the intensive care unit on Nov. 7, 2018. The telepresence robot is outfitted with computer monitors, a camera, microphones, speakers, headphones for the hard of hearing and even a navigation system, which helps Dr. Stan wheel through the ICU and into a patient’s room when prompted.

The mobile video-conferencing machine allows physicians to speak directly to a patient using a visual interface, listen to the patient’s heartbeat through an attached stethoscope, and use other medical tools with the help of a nurse. The device also offers translation services with visual cues for patients who may not speak English.

Dr. Stan’s bedside manner might lack a human touch but many in the ICU consider it an indispensable tool. 

“It really does improve the care for our patients,” said Scott. “They get the care that they need from the right physician at the right time without delays and I think that immediacy of care really improves our patient care.”

Scott said he never imagined he’d be working alongside a device like Dr. Stan but he’s grateful for the unique tool. 

“What the robot allows us to do is to sleep well at night,” said Scott. “I can go home and know that my ICU is well covered. I know that my ICU is well taken care of by one of my colleagues, a Baylor Scott and White physician who is skilled and can take good care of my patients.”

Similar telepresence robotic platforms are in use at Baylor Scott & White locations in Waxahachie, Lakeway, Marble Falls, and Dallas.