Moxi the Hospital Robot Helps Nurses with Regular Tasks

July 16, 2019

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for nurses will grow by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026. With nurses in such high demand, hospitals around the country are on a near constant search for qualified professionals. Sometimes, though, there simply aren’t enough candidates available to meet demand. This can lead to hospital staffing shortages, which require nurses to work longer hours and perform more tasks.

That’s where a robot named Moxi comes in. Developed by the Austin-based startup Diligent Robotics, Moxi is designed to share the load with overworked nurses. Of course, the robot isn’t sophisticated enough to apply IVs or take a patient’s blood pressure. Instead, Moxi performs the mundane tasks that prevent nurses from spending more time with patients. With its robotic arm and wheels, Moxi can grab charts and deliver fresh supplies from room to room. This allows nurses to focus on the most important parts of their job since Moxi works more or less automatically once its been programmed. “They don’t have to think about telling the robot to do things,” said Diligent Robotics co-founder Vivian Chu. 

The Diligent team developed Moxi to focus almost exclusively on the 30 percent of tasks that do not require nurses to interact with patients. Nevertheless, the robot proved to be quite popular with patients at the handful of Texas hospitals that participated in Moxi’s pilot program in 2018 and 2019. “In between tasks Moxi would make a social lap to talk to her fans,” said Diligent co-founder Andrea Thomaz. This enthusiasm gives the company hope that more workers will be willing to collaborate with robotic assistants in the near future. “Our real vision is bringing robots to markets that are working side by side with people, that are changing the future of work,”  said Thomaz. “It’s going to enable people to do so much more.”

Questions:

  1. How does Moxi help nurses focus on the most important parts of their jobs?
  2. Do you think robotic and human collaborations will become common in the American workplace? Why or why not?

Source: Katharine Schwab, “A Hospital Introduced a Robot to Help Nurses. They Didn’t Expect It to Be So Popular,” Fast Company, July 8, 2019.

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