The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated problems of already overwhelmed healthcare
ecosystems. The pandemic worsened long-standing health dispari- ties and
increased stress and risk of infection for frontline healthcare workers
(HCWs). Telemedical robots offer great potential to both improve HCW
safety and patient access to high-quality care, however, most of these
systems are pro- hibitively expensive for under-resourced healthcare
organizations, and difficult to use. In this paper, we introduce Iris, a
low-cost, open hardware/open software telemedical robot platform. We
co-designed Iris with front-line HCWs to be usable, accessible,
robust, and well-situated within the emergency medicine (EM) ecosystem.
We tested Iris with 15 EM physicians, who reported high usability, and
provided detailed feedback critical to situating the robot within a
range of EM care delivery contexts, including under-resourced ones.
Based on these find- ings, we present a series of concrete design
suggestions for those interested in building and deploying similar
systems. We hope this will inspire future work both in the current
pandemic and beyond.