Robot, Uninterrupted: Telemedical Robots to Mitigate Care Disruption

Matsumoto, Sachiko, Ghosh, Pratyusha, Jamshad, Rabeya, and Riek, Laurel D., In Proceedings of the 18th Annual ACM/IEEE Conference on Human Robot Interaction (HRI). [Acceptance rate: 25%]. (2023).
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Emergency department (ED) healthcare workers (HCWs) are interrupted as often as once every six minutes, increasing the risk of errors and preventable patient harm. As more robots enter hospitals, and the ED, they must support HCWs in managing interruptions, and ideally mitigate their harmful effects, without disrupting ED communication. However, interruption-mitigation strategies, particularly for mobile telemanipulator robots (MTRs), are not well understood. In this work, we explore interruption-mitigation and reorientation methods for MTRs in the ED. We conducted a study where ED HCWs teleoperated an MTR in a realistic hospital simulation environment. Our findings revealed insights on how MTRs might support multitasking in environments with frequent task switching, and the place of autonomy in safety-critical spaces. Conflicting opinions about the appropriateness of different MTR behaviors highlighted challenges and ethical dilemmas that influence the integration of MTRs in the ED. This work will support the implementation of interruption-mitigation strategies on MTRs, enabling them to better support people in fast-paced, interruption-driven environments thus reducing the risk of errors in these situations.