A Doctor’s Favorite Sidekick: Robin Healthcare

Practice without paperwork: The discovery of Robin Healthcare

Imagine this: you’re at a doctor’s appointment with a neck strain that has bothered you for the past couple of months, and your doctor is spending most of their time typing out a course of treatment rather than examining the actual area of discomfort. This is not to say that your doctor is distant; they have a ton of patients, and with that comes a ton of paperwork. There needs to be a more natural and efficient way for doctors to diagnose patients promptly while maintaining face-to-face interactions. Doctors are always looking for better ways to interact with their patients, and in turn, patients search for doctors who will be able to educate them about specific medical conditions.

With this in mind, Robin Healthcare’s discovery came to us at an early stage to help doctors solve the problem of clinical documentation. Robin saves time for both doctor and patient, but it also prevents multitasking and, ultimately, incorrect diagnoses. Think of Robin as a doctor’s assistant and scribe: the doctor vocalizes vital patient information, Robin takes note of that information in its database, and sends any updates directly to the patient’s electronic health record.

By leveraging technology to humanize the doctor-patient relationship, we free the doctor to listen and think about diagnoses and treatments.

Robin Healthcare

The Nesting Stage

Initial meetings and research are the keys to creating any great product. We wanted to fully immerse ourselves into the world of healthcare and understand both the patient’s and doctor’s needs through observation and role-play. Noah and Emilio from Robin Healthcare invited us to Sutter Health’s Podiatry Clinic in San Francisco, where they revealed beta prototypes set up in several exam rooms. On-site observation and talking to Robin Healthcare employees, and doctors, allowed us to keep user experience and interaction in mind during the design process.

Doctors’ appointments are already stressful and uncomfortable for any patient, so we aimed to create a device that fulfilled these main points: Is Robin approachable? How do we make Robin look as friendly as possible in a medical environment? Is Robin modern?

Essentially, we knew we would be creating an artificially intelligent assistant, so approachability and friendliness are crucial to maintaining a comfortable medical environment. We primarily looked to Batman’s famous sidekick, Robin, as a leading source of inspiration; in fact, Robin Healthcare’s logo was originally derived from this iconic duo and the Robin bird. If we’re talking role-playing here, the doctor is Batman, and Robin is…Robin.

For further inspiration, if you’ve seen Disney’s 2014 film, “Big Hero 6,” we looked to the protagonist’s companion, Baymax, whose sole purpose is to take care of people. It would be reaching to craft an entire Baymax, but the character’s approachability factor is what we strived to recreate in Robin. So maybe we can also think of Robin as Baymax’s “mini-me.”

Incubating Ideas: Trial, Error & Solution

From an engineering standpoint, the main question that lingered upon Robin’s creation was, “How do we preserve patient confidentiality when the device is in use?”

Medical professionals requested the following components in Robin’s development:

  1. physical lens cover or shade easily accessible and noticeable to the patient reassures that the video would not selectively record while they disrobe.
  2. visual cue from Robin when the device is turned on or muted.
  3. From a personal standpoint and upon observation, we knew that we wanted the device to remain situated on the corner of a tabletop instead of mounted on a wall.

Ultimately, the biggest challenge we faced was making the device appear seemingly compact due to the internal electrical components while maintaining a professional and modern appearance. Patient confidentiality is at the forefront of any technological medical device. Because of this, Robin underwent multiple series of iterations to fine-tune these three main aspects. 

Early design revisions had considerations for a hood and shade to mask the lens and stop video recording on the device. With this approach, we realized that users would have to use their fingertips to physically open and close the shade to either cover or expose the camera lens. We later found that this would not be an ideal approach because fingertips vary between users and leave behind fingerprints on the lens. Also, this model required more parts, making it more expensive during the manufacturing stage.

We also experimented with numerous layouts for the internal components to minimize the device’s overall footprint. The audio was crucial, and the aperture for the microphone array had to remain invisible without interrupting surfaces and maximize performance and sound quality.

The final version contained a sheath around the device to mask the lens and stop recording video. By twisting the sheath, the user can selectively cover the lens without worrying about fingerprints. Magnets help align the aperture in the sheath to the lens while Robin records.

For turning audio and recording on or off via visual cues, we utilized a detail vent located at the device’s equator for both sound and ambient LED lighting. When Robin is ready to record audio, the vent illuminates with a blue hue. Similarly, when the vent glows with a red hue, Robin stops recording audio. Using Robin Healthcare’s logo as inspiration, we also applied feather-gloss details within the vent to help reflect the LED light, giving the device a more charming appearance than harsh red or blue.

Bringing Robin Healthcare To Life

Designing this trusty sidekick was far from an easy feat. We learned to be patient with the process through trial and error, and the payoff was so worth it in the end.

In the first full year of its official launch, Robin has made a positive, lasting impact on the medical industry. Practices that utilize Robin have reportedly saved 460 hours per year in fulfilling administrative duties (Robinhealthcare.com).

Doctors can now prioritize the patient and give them their undivided attention without completing tedious paperwork at the end of the day. We can only hope that more practices discover the benefits of having Robin at their service–not just to assist in administrative tasks, but ultimately, to put patients at ease, knowing that their care is the utmost priority.

In more recent years, we have seen medicine, healthcare, and technology continue to evolve, so we were honored to play a role in humanizing the doctor-patient relationship. Ironically, we did so with technology, but most technological advances (i.e., Siri or Amazon Alexa) have started to reshape our home and professional lives. Five years from now, we can only imagine AI integration becoming the primary source of most tedious tasks in the workplace. We’re already halfway there.

Update: As of September 2019, Robin Healthcare announced to TechCrunch that they have received $15 million in funding! We at Hatch Duo would like to send our partners at Robin Healthcare a huge congratulations for reaching this incredible milestone! We’re grateful to have played even the slightest role in their journey and continued success!

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