PROVIDING A (ROBOTIC) HELPING HAND TO ALL
MONTEREY >> Robots are coming to an area hospital, not to perform surgery, but to help fetch, deliver, and pick up items, in order to further enhance the health facility's functions by allowing nurses to focus more on patient care.
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, the first hospital in Northern and Central California to do so, is adding robot assistants to support clinicians in giving patients quality care across multiple areas of the hospital.
“Moxi will be on 24/7,” said Debbie Sober, RN and Chief Nursing Officer at Community Hospital.
Moxi refers to the two robots the hospital is employing through a lease agreement with its creator, Diligent Robotics. Using machine-learning technology, the robots use an array of sensors to map the hospital and have a mechanized arm to navigate multiple types of doors, including those that require badge access.
Moxi helps with non-patientfacing tasks such as fetching items from central supplies, delivering lab samples, picking up medicines from the pharmacy, distributing personal protective equipment and more, improving overall clinical workflows and efficiency, according to Sober. It is estimated nurses spend nearly one-third of their time getting supplies, so automating these tasks enables them to operate at the top of their training and skills and spend more time with patients.
Sober said it is important to note that the robots will not be replacing any workers.
Moxi's arm is primarily used to help navigate the environment. It has a gripper used to push pressure points like elevator buttons, and a badge to work with scanners for access to se
cured areas, said Nicholas Bloom, Diligent head of client success.
Moxi uses Apple iPad technology both built into its body and at the clinician's access point or kiosk. It has a badge reader for secure deliveries and its drawers are locked until it gets to its final destination where a clinician shows their badge to Moxi, and the robot unlocks the drawer to complete its delivery, said Bloom.
“Moxi has what is called `mox spots'waypointsl way points that have been dropped on a virtual map throughout the entire hospital, so only when Moxi atrives to a mox spot of its designated destination is the only time it can be unloaded,” said Bloom.
Designed to be compatible with the busy, semistructured environments of hospitals, Moxi's core technical features include having social intelligence, opening elevators and doors on its own, not bumping into people or objects in hallways, and even posing for selfies. It also has mobile manipulation which allows Moxi to interact with the hospital's existing environment such as doors and elevators that are Americans with Disabilities Act compliant to gain access across the entire facility without requiring a significant investment in infrastructure. Moxi has human-guided learning meaning that the more staff uses Moxi, the more it learns and adapts to its environment and a way of doing things.
Daniel Chibaya, Community Hospital chief operating officer said the robot itself needed to be trained about the layout of the building so it knows where to go and where to stop. For people who will have access to Moxi there was training about how to use the kiosk, request an order, types of things that can be put into the robot's drawers and how to open it.
Moxi will be used by a limited number of hospital staff such as clinicians, emergency room, laboratory, pharmacy, all the nursing units, and then in the future possibly food nutrition so that it can send snacks up to patients or people visiting patients.
When the two Moxi robots are officially deployed Wednesday, they will hit the floor running supporting nurses and clinical care teams.
Community Hospital Chief Financial Officer Matt Morgan said the hospital is confident the two Moxi robots will have more than enough things to do and could possibly see another Moxi added to the family in the future.
“Once they get going, we can think of other things they can be used for,” said Morgan.
The Moxi robots were made possible through grant funding from Montage Health Foundation.
The annual lease subscription Community Hospital has with Diligent for the robots provide for Moxi's evolution.
“If it breaks down or if a new version comes out or if there are upgrades, that's all included and we automatically get that,” said Morgan. “Part of the real advantage of leasing something like this … is that you get all of that included in the lease.”
Moxi's evolution could be both software or hardware upgrades, according to Bloom.
“Moxi is a very modular robot so as we deploy new features and new equipment we're able to bring those new features to all of our robots across the fleet to make sure that all the robots are always the newest, latest and greatest,” said Bloom.
For more information about Community Hospital's Moxi robot assistants, visit montagehealth.org/ moxi.