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As reported by Yahoo News ... Staff Sgt. Juan Amaris laid in intensive care recovering from life-threatening burns when he got a peculiar visit from his doctor. Dr. Kevin Chung — rather, a 5-foot-tall camouflage-clad robot with Chung's face on a monitor — rolled in to check on him.

With his proxy's cameras zooming and wireless antennas beaming, Chung stood in a kitchen in Virginia and examined Amaris from 1,500 miles away, providing a connection between doctor and patient even as Chung was on vacation.

Use of the robot began as an Army telemedicine pilot project several years ago. But its success in allowing Chung to check on patients while deployed and in training nurses far away means the Chungbot — as it's been nicknamed around Brooke Army Medical Center — is here to stay...

"It became so clinically useful, it was no longer a research tool," said Chung, who oversees the Army's only burn ICU...Using the robot allows Chung to examine wounds and interact with the patient, though someone else at the bedside takes vital signs and provides hands-on care at the doctor's instruction.

The robot arrived at Brooke three years ago after Chung sought grant funding to lease the device...About 250 similar robots are being used by civilian hospitals, primarily to connect satellite facilities with specialist doctors, said Jennifer Niesse, a spokeswoman for InTouch Health, the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based manufacturer...

...Since the arrival of the Chungbot, other military doctor-bots have been tried at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., for laproscopic surgery training, and at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami for remote trauma consultations. The results have generally been good but decisions on long-term use have been left to local hospital commanders, said Col. Ron Poropatich, deputy director of the Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center...

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