Detroit Unleashes RoboDoc

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If you roam the corridors of the Detroit Medical Center these days you might see something a little unusual: robots making rounds.

As CBS News Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin reports, the medical center has deployed 10 of these 5-foot,7-inch, 220-pound bundles of technological innovation aimed at improving medicine.

They don't operate alone, of course. Through the Internet, a doctor is always at the helm.

The beauty of it is really pretty simple. Doctors can be two places at once. They can be in the office or even at home looking at charts and records and be at the patients bedside at the same time.

Any doctor, like Richard Santucci, with access to the computer technology can "log on" to the robots and go on rounds.

He happens to be home when needed in the emergency room.

After receiving a page, he stops cooking dinner and checks in on a patient.

Santucci maneuvers the robot through the hospital halls half an hour away. He's able to pull up charts, look at X-rays and even consult with other doctors before talking to patients.

Critics might say, "Oh great, another tool to make doctors even less hands-on." But patients actually seem to appreciate it, saying they believe it's the wave of the future.

"Yeah, it's pretty good," says one. "It may be quicker and faster to get around to people."

Improving efficiency is the main goal, but pediatric surgeon Dr. Michael Klein says the technology is also a way to have a specialist in Boston see a patient in Baton Rouge.

"This is a way we can actually bring expert care to people's bedsides."

All agree there's a time and a place to use the robots. They are not meant to replace doctors, only help them.

In fact, they have one major shortcoming: they need power.