US hospital deploys Moxi robot to support nurses

US hospital deploys Moxi robot to support nurses

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas has become the first US hospital to deploy Moxi, a ‘socially intelligent’ robot from Diligent Robotics, designed to support healthcare teams.

The robot is intended to help overcome the physical, mental, and emotional challenges faced by overburdened nurses. According to NSI Nursing Solutions, the average turnover rate for Registered Nurses (RNs) in hospitals hovers around 20 percent in their first year in the field.

It is hoped that Moxi will be able to assume some of the more menial tasks currently carried out by nurses at the hospital, freeing them up to spend more time caring for patients. This includes filling shelves in supply rooms, setting up and stocking rooms for patients, and running labs.

Moxi features LED ‘eyes’ and two arms capable of picking up light equipment. The robot navigates the world using cameras and LiDAR, which measures distance by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor.

Speaking to CBS about the research project, Cole Edmonson, of Texas Health Resources, said:

“We want to learn where nursing intersects with socially and artificially intelligent robotics in the daily processes of caring for patients and families, really investigating how this kind of technology can help nurses focus more on the direct needs of our patients by alleviating the more routine, non-clinical duties of caregivers.

“Nurses and other caregivers want to spend more time with their patients and on high-value work that improve outcomes at the end of the day. By participating in this project, we are creating the future today and setting a national research agenda that will create a path forward for caregivers and robots working side by side in a human environment.”

Andrea Thomaz, CEO and co-founder of Diligent Robotics, writes on the company website:

Moxi’s goal as a robot is not to replace the jobs of people, but quite the opposite: to support people in their roles. Moxi supports clinical staff by augmenting logistical tasks that limit valuable patient care time.

“By executing non-patient facing, logistical tasks that clinical teams are responsible for, Moxi creates a more efficient and thoughtful environment, allowing for better patient care.”

Following a one-week demonstration period, Moxi has been introduced to the team on the neurology and stroke unit at Texas Health Dallas, where a month-long pilot will determine the viability of using the robot in the long term.

Internet of Business says

The practical application of robotics in healthcare settings is already well established. Yet, current uses are largely limited to robot-assisted surgery.

With healthcare services around the world under constant pressure to limit spending and improve the quality of care, robotics could step in to more mobile roles.

There is little margin for error, however. It doesn’t matter how well Moxi ‘smiles’ when addressed, if the robot ends up placing medicines in the wrong location, or otherwise disrupting hospital procedures.

Nonetheless, it is early days and such studies are vital to paving the way to the hospitals of the future, in which robots will undoubtedly have an important role to play.

Elsewhere, robots are expected to transform Japan’s social care by 2020.