Moxi, a 4-foot tall robot that transports personal items, medication, supplies and lab samples from floor to flooring at Mary Washington Hospital, Fredericksburg, Virginia has been an assistant for the nurses since February. The nurses are grateful for the relief it brings after two years of fighting Covid-19 burnout and other related issues.
Diligent Robotics created Moxi. The company was founded in 2017 by Vivian Chu and Andrea Thomaz. Vivian Chu is a former Google X researcher. Andrea Thomaz developed Moxi while she was an associate professor at Texas at Austin. Thomaz advised Chu at Georgia Tech’s Socially Intelligent Machines Lab. Moxi’s first commercial deployment was made in the months following the pandemic. There are approximately 15 Moxi robotics currently in US hospitals. Another 60 will be available later in the year.
Andrea Thomaz, CEO Diligent Robotics says, “In 2018, any hospital thought about working with us was a special projects for the CFO of an innovation project about a hospital of the future.” “What we observed over the past two-years is that almost all health care systems are thinking about robotics, automation, or have robotics and automated on their strategic agenda.”
Abigail Hamilton from Mary Washington Hospital believes that burnout can cause people to retire early, move toward temporary travel nursing work, harm their relationships with loved one, or leave the industry altogether.
Moxi’s simple acts of kindness can still make a significant impact, she said. It can help nurses save the time and effort it takes to travel from the fifth to the basement in order to pick up medication that cannot be sent through the tube system to the pharmacy. Moxi is a favorite task for picking up meals for patients in the evenings. Moxi robots have given back 600 hours to workers since they began working in Mary Washington Hospital’s hallways in February.
Hamilton stated that robots were used at her hospital because “as a society, we are not who we were” in February 2020. “We must think of new ways to support caregivers at their bedside.”