CAREER: Next Generation Patient Simulators

At least 400,000 people die every year in US hospitals due to fully preventable medical errors. This is the third leading cause of death in our country, and a major public health crisis. The majority of those deaths are due to poorly-designed technology that completely fails to support a culture of safety, and communication problems between clinicians, patients, and other stakeholders. We focus on helping address these problems by building on the success of the aforementioned robotics projects, and designing technology across a range of healthcare settings from the operating room to the bedside.

One project, supported by the NSF CAREER award, involves the design of the next generation of robotic human patient simulator systems (HPS). These are life-sized robots which train clinicians to safely treat patients. They are the most commonly used android robot in America: over 180,000 doctors, nurses, and combat medics train on them annually. However, all commercial HPS systems are completely facially inexpressive, which destroys clinician immersion and understanding of critical patient cues. To address this, we are designing a new, 21-DOF expressive robotic head capable of conveying actual patient expressions of stroke, neurological impairment, and pain, and capable of sensing and interacting with clinical learners (Moosaei, Pourebadi, and Riek, 2019; Moosaei et al., 2017; Moosaei, Gonzales, and Riek, 2014; Moosaei, Hayes, and Riek, 2015; Pourebadi et al., 2020.)

In addition to helping advance research in robot expression synthesis, this project also employs novel manufacturing techniques to create low-cost systems that integrate with existing HPS systems, which is in the process of being licensed to industry (Riek, 2015).