If you’re tired of completing routine tasks on the hospital floor, such as running errands, dropping off specimens at the lab, and bringing supplies to new patients, a new robot named Moxie is here to help. This self-sufficient machine is here to help nurses spend more time with their patients by eliminating certain tasks from their daily workloads.
Nursing is one of the fastest growing job sectors in the country, and some healthcare facilities are struggling to keep up with demand. Moxie isn’t here to take anyone’s job, but rather help registered nurses go further on the job, so they don’t have to spend precious time running errands and doing mundane tasks. Learn more about Moxie and how it’s shaping the future of healthcare.
Making Room for Moxie
If you visit a hospital in Texas, you might see a robot roaming the halls. Moxie was designed by Diligent Robotics, an Austin-based company. Moxie isn’t meant to function like a nurse, but rather a nurse’s assistant. It can complete around 30% of nursing tasks that don’t involve interacting with patients. You may see Moxie sending samples to the lab or bringing supplies to a hospital room, but you won’t see it caring for patients.
Moxie has a long robotic arm that can reach high places, a set of wheels on its base so it can move around easily, and a rotating head that moves just like a human’s. It also has two digital eyes that look in the direction it’s moving, helping staff members avoid any collisions on the hospital floor.
Instead of nurses doling out commands to Moxie, it’s programmed to run errands and complete routine tasks automatically. It’s connected to the facility’s electronic health records and when something changes with a patient’s records, Moxie automatically goes to work. For example, if a patient needs a blood test, Moxie will go to their room, pick up the sample and send it off to the lab.
This means nurses don’t even have to think about routine tasks that used to be a part of their job, helping them focus on the tasks that matter such as caring for patients, administering medication, and updating patient records. In fact, many nurses don’t even see Moxie completing these tasks. The tasks are already completed by the time the nurse returns to the patient’s rooms.
The creators of Moxie spent up to 150 hours shadowing nurses on the floor so they could learn which tasks Moxie could handle and which were best left to existing staff members. Now, Moxie is being deployed at several different hospitals around Texas as part of its beta testing.
How Patients and Staff are Responding to Moxie
While Moxie isn’t designed to administer care, it still interacts with patients from time to time. Engineers from Diligent Robotics were surprised at how much patients enjoyed seeing and interacting with the robot. Some would even ask for selfies with Moxie as it passed by their rooms and one child even wrote a letter to hospital staff asking where Moxie lives. Now, if Moxie has some extra time on the floor, it gets to spend time interacting with fans. It can even flash heart eyes at patients, which is sure to put a smile on their faces.
Moxie has a sleek, white, human-like design that’s meant to welcome patients and staff, not intimidate them like something from the Terminator series. Diligent Robotics founder Andrea Thomaz talks about how some staff members were skeptical of Moxie at first, but they eventually came around. “Some nurses were like, ‘It creeps me out a little, I don’t like robots, I’m not into AI.’ But by the end they [were] like, ‘Hey Moxi, hey girl, how’s it going?’ It was dramatic, in a matter of two to three weeks.”
Moxie and the Future of Healthcare
As nurses and patients warm up to Moxie during these beta tests, Diligent Robotics is gearing up for an official launch later this year at three or four hospitals. They have their sights set on other industries as well, but for now they’re just focused on healthcare. As Thomaz states, “Our real vision is bringing robots to markets that are working side by side with people, that are changing the future of work. It’s going to enable people to do so much more.”
Healthcare facilities across the country continue to grapple with nursing shortages and Moxie may be just what they need to make the most of their existing staff members. We should see more facilities implementing robots in the years to come, assuming all goes well with Moxie’s official launch.
While some in healthcare may be worried about losing their jobs to robots and automation, these new tools are meant to augment human workers, not replace them. Thomaz adds, “People can have so much more impact if 50% of your day is freed up to do more with your creativity and all of the things that you love about your job. We think robot teammates are really going to be an interesting and huge step.”
You may find yourself working alongside Moxie in the next few years. Tell us how you feel about robotics in healthcare.