RoboNurse Has My Back

Hospitals are dealing with a staffing shortage but robots can allow nurses to spend more time with patients

Danielle Siarri MSN, RN

Robots were frequently seen in the laboratory science space but are now moving into the hospital environment globally. In recent years, robots have been in surgery assisting physicians; now they are moving into mundane tasks, assisting nurses in the hospital. You can call such… “RoboNurses”.

In Thailand, Mongkutwattana General Hospital started using mobile robots on a magnetic track. The robots perform time-saving tasks such as paperwork and medical deliveries. This hospital like many is dealing with a nurse staffing shortage and the robots allow nurses to spend more time with patients. As a rule of thumb, nurses spend a lot of time looking for supplies, medicine and logical issues of care.

“China-developed robotic nurses help in Bangkok hospital” by New China TV via YouTube.

Nurses continue to be in high demand according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN); an additional 203,700 new registered nurses (RNs) each year through 2026 to replace retiring nurses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of job postings for nurses will be up by 15% from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than other career paths. Texas recently turned to an unusual solution: a “hunter and grabber” robot and semi-social celebrity Moxi, a very special RoboNurse.

“Moxi the Robot” by Texas Health Resources via YouTube.

At first, nurses were apprehensive of Moxi but in time patients and nurses were won over. Moxi was integrated into the workflow of care and was giving heart eyes to nurses and social time to patients. Moxie was tasked to assist with post-discharge room cleaning and provide welcome baskets. By the end of the user experience with the robot trial, nurses had a friendly banter with Moxi saying, “Hey Moxi, hey girl, how’s it going?”

The RoboNurse role is to augment rather than replace human workers; the incoming automation revolution won’t necessarily be all bad. Nurses need to partner with technology to create an environment like this where robots assist.

The logical path for nurses is to be part of the change management and in designing the future of automation.

Photo by Denisse Leon on Unsplash

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