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Robot Nurses To Cut Health Care Costs

Who hasn't fantasized about in-house robots cleaning the floors, preparing dinner, or washing our backs in a nice warm bubble bath? Although robots are replacing humans in various industries, Colin Angle, a roboticist and CEO of iRobot, has a vision of robots cutting down the costs of health care. Earlier today at IFA in Berlin, Angle made his vision known to CNET during the convention, saying that robotic "nurses" in a person's home could reduce the $2.2 trillion spent on health care every year.

His vision includes robots caring for elderly people who insist on living at home, or sick patients that don't require surgery. What his vision doesn't include is robots that walk and talk like C-3PO or Ash (from Alien), but rather machine-like devices similar to the Roomba and Scooba household robots that he helped design.

"Instead of patients with chronic illnesses constantly going to a hospital for even minor treatments and checkups, a telepresence device could act as a proxy for the doctor to check in on them," reports CNET based on an example provided by Angle. "The robot could examine, diagnose, and make sure a prescription is administered on the right schedule. The patient, in other words, wouldn't have to set foot in a hospital unless he or she needs care that is only available there."

Of course, currently, it's extremely difficult to finance a house let alone a "nurse" robot. Without insurance flipping most of the bill, elderly consumers won't be able to afford such devices, especially those living on social security, disability or retirement. But Angle seems to think there's a market, saying that consumers spent between $2,000 and $3,000 each on health-related equipment, and the number will jump over 7 million within the next three years.