The Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire (VNAVNH) took a giant step into the future this summer when it deployed a fleet of telepresence robots into the homes of clients living in rural New England.

VNAVNH plans to use the telepresence robots to provide:

  • Care and support for clients who are recovering from surgery.
  • Clinical support to home health care or hospice nurses.
  • Wound care assessment and treatment consultation.
  • Consultation for chemotherapy, antibiotics, hydration or other infusion therapies.

Care Robots: Fully Equipped for Voice, Video and Movement

The tall, sleek-looking robots come from a New Hampshire-based company called VGo. A video screen on each unit allows clients and clinicians to see and talk with one another as if they were in the same room. In addition, each robot has 2 wheels so remote clinicians can move it around a client’s home. Communication takes place over an ordinary Wi-Fi network.

Remote Care: A New Way to Serve Rural Seniors

VNAVNH President Jeanne A. McLaughlin says that the telepresence robots will allow her agency to “expand client engagement without a dramatic increase in cost, while still preserving a person-to-person interaction.” The robots will also help VNAVNH provide more care in rural areas “without an army of staff,” she says.

“Nurses can now visit with select patients more frequently,” says McLaughlin. “By eliminating the need to travel for each visit, professional staff can better utilize their time and respond to client's needs and unforeseen problems that arise much quicker."

The opportunity to increase the frequency of client-clinician interactions while cutting back on travel costs is a huge benefit for VNAVNH. The agency serves nearly 113 towns over 4,000 square miles in the Connecticut River Valley. More than 5,000 people in Vermont and New Hampshire receive care from VNAVNH each year during more than 132,000 home visits.