Would You Try a Self-Service Doctor’s Office? Some Already Have

For anyone putting off visiting their doctor because they fear picking up the COVID-19 infection while in the waiting room, a French inventor has a solution: an automated miniature doctor’s surgery.

The patient goes inside a cabin the size of a large wardrobe, sits down, and talks to a real-life doctor over a video link while using sensors inside the cabin to take their own temperature, or check their blood pressure, oxygen saturation levels, and heart rate.

The set-up has been on the market for the past three years but has seen a surge of interest since the new coronavirus outbreak, according to H4D, the French company that created the device.

One of the cabins was installed in the mayor’s office in Mennecy, a town 25 miles south of Paris.

The mayor, Jean-Philippe Dugoin-Clement, said plans to install the device were brought forward when the coronavirus outbreak hit France.

“A lot of patients are frightened right now of going into a classical doctor’s surgery, and some doctors have slowed down their activities,” said Dugoin-Clement.

Virtual medical consultations, conducted over a smartphone app or a computer screen, have also seen an increase in use since the outbreak.

The automated cabin takes that a step further by providing clinical-standard measurements of a patient’s vital signs that are transmitted in real-time to the doctor at the other end of the video link.

The cabin, at the end of the consultation, also prints out for the patient a summary of their measurements.

Frank Baudino, a doctor by training and the chief executive of H4D, said some of the cabins have been installed in French hospitals receiving walk-in patients with COVID-19 symptoms.

An automated video tutorial talks the patient through how to measure their vital signs so by the time they see a doctor in the flesh, that part of the procedure has already been completed, Baudino told Reuters.

Could this ever cross the seas and become a common practice in America? Time will tell…


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