How does a delirium screening test work?
Günther: You perform an attention test, for example. This also works for intubated patients. In this case, you read out a series of ten letters. Each time the patient hears the letter A, she or he must squeeze your hand. Patients must not squeeze your hand for other letters. The test requires patients to follow simple instructions such as holding up two or three fingers. Or you ask "yes" or "no" questions. We have added these capabilities to the simulator.
Are there already insights into whether and how the robot could improve training?
Günther: We conducted a study and just submitted it for publication. As part of the pilot program, we trained a small group of people. Half of the group was trained with the help of an actress, the other half by means of the robot. We subsequently compared how the test subjects picked up the learning content and found that training with the robot was not inferior to training with an actress.
What are your next steps?
Günther: The robot is currently still missing its right arm, which we need for the test. We also want to hone its motor skills and add more restlessness to the torso, which is something a person with delirium may exhibit. For now, the robot is controlled by an operator, but our goal is for it to become increasingly autonomous and able to operate independently.
We would like to take the system from prototype to product because we envision more applications aside from being a screening instrument for delirium. Autonomous robots have a bright future as a tool to train medical students and hospital care team members.