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The future is now: robots set to improve communication at hospitals

14 December 2018

TESA, ‘The eHealth Service Assistant’, speaks 26 languages and counting, dances and jokes on command, and will soon be brightening the days of hospital patients across Queensland including at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH).

TESA has been transformed by Queensland Health’s Digital Application Services to be useful in a healthcare setting.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles was impressed by TESA’s capabilities when he met her at PAH earlier this week.

“TESA provides a great insight into the application of robotics and artificial intelligence in public healthcare,” Minister Miles said.

“TESA is being programmed for a variety of tasks, including interacting with children, language interpretation, guiding patients and visitors around hospitals and conducting surveys.

“It can be really overwhelming for people who don’t speak English to have to visit a hospital, but TESA is able to make their time at our hospitals a little easier.”

eHealth Digital Application Services Senior Director Russell Hart said TESA had been programmed to interpret and translate 26 languages, including Arabic and Mandarin, which were the most common non-English dialects spoken in Queensland emergency departments.

“TESA can provide language services when necessary to ensure patients and clinicians are communicating effectively,” he said.

“Obviously this is critical, especially in EDs when information needs to be accurate and time is of the essence.”

Early next year, TESA will be equipped with several more functions and will be deployed at hospitals across Queensland to complement existing interpreter and wayfinding services.

She already contains a chatbot that enables her to communicate with children and adults.

“Kids can ask her questions or get her to do a dance,” Mr Hart said.

“TESA provides entertainment. Most importantly, she helps reduce the stress on children when they’re in hospital or visiting relatives in hospital.”

Last updated 14 December 2018
Last reviewed 14 December 2018

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