Robotic Nurse Could Save The Day

Robotic Nurse Could Save The Day

Over the past few years, nurses have been in extremely high demand especially in the US where more and more hospitals and have a shortage of nurses. It’s reported that by 2026 the number of vacancies for nurses will have raised 15 percent, a huge amount looking at the big picture. This major shortage of staff in hospitals in crucial roles is forcing most hospitals to get creative. Recently a few of them, mainly in Texas, have started looking to a robotic nurse named Moxi for assistance.

Using The Assistance Of A Robotic Nurse

These Moxi robots were designed by Diligent Robotics in Austin, not to replace nurses completely but simply to do simpler less intensive jobs that don’t require patient interaction such as delivering samples and moving equipment around the hospital. Andrea Thomaz co-founder of Diligent Robotics and former robotics professor at UT Austin and Georgia Tech said, “We’re helping them augment their staff, it’s hard to argue that we’re taking anyone’s job. Everyone is trying to make the nurses they have go further.”

The robotic nurse is comprised of a robotic arm and some wheels to help it run errands around the hospital. The bot is connected to the hospital’s health records, nurses can then program it to take certain actions when specific things change about a patients condition. For example, if Moxi receives information that a patient has been discharged she will take fresh supplies for the next patient. This would obviously take a big weight off the shoulders of nurses and trivial tasks will no longer hold their attention. Some nurses have reported that they don’t even notice Moxi, that when they show up to the room the things required are already just in place. This is likely due to the extensive research that the bots developers did before production began.

Despite not being the main focus, the bot’s creators Chu and Thomaz were experts in human-robot interactions, therefore some work was put in to make the robot more welcoming and non-threatening to patients. It moves its head as a human would and always faces the direction it’s moving. As an example. Thomaz stated, “Our challenge was to find a balance between an arm that was functional enough to pick up enough things to be useful in the hospital but have a small enough form so not too bulky and scary.”

Unsurprisingly despite the robot being designed to stay out the way and complete the mundane tasks, many patients were perplexed and interested in the robot and how it worked. The robot became somewhat of a mascot as well as a functional tool among the hospital staff and residents, with many asking for selfies with it and becoming quite infatuated with Moxi. Because of this Moxi was then programmed to go around flashing heart eyes at people every hour and with the great reported performance and popularity of the robot it’s hard to see it going anywhere anytime soon.

 

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