UP Experts Build ‘Telepresence Computers’ So COVID-19 Patients, Healthcare Workers Feel Less Alone

It's a collab between UP Manila and UP Diliman.
by Francesca Pangilinan   |  Apr 17, 2020
Image: FACEBOOK/upmedicine
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Being away from family and friends can leave you feeling lonely. Such is the case for COVID-19 patients and healthcare workers who are currently isolated in different hospitals. Visits are highly discouraged—unless you can do so virtually.

The UP College of Medicine Surgical Innovations and Biotechnology Laboratory (S.I.B.O.L.) devised telepresence computers that help connect COVID-19 patients and healthcare workers to the outside world. The team consists of scientists, engineers, and clinicians from UP Manila and UP Diliman.

Doctor Nats Orillaza leads the group in finding tech solutions that initially aim to help healthcare workers accomplish tasks without compromising their health.  

One of Orillaza and team’s initiatives is the telepresence computer system. “It's an ongoing project that hopes to efficiently connect people in the COVID-19 wards (patients and workers) to people outside so we can conserve much needed and dwindling PPEs but still provide the warmth of seeing a friendly face,” he shares. Through the system, healthcare workers can also virtually monitor patients, lessening the risk of exposure to the virus.

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The telepresence computers are now being used at the Philippine General Hospital. These computers were donated by Xavier School alumni. Orillaza also mentioned their next steps for the project. “We are now preparing a new batch of devices that are easier to maneuver based on initial feedback. There are delays because of difficulties procuring equipment while on ECQ.” Let’s hope more hospitals get to use this kind of innovation!

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