Registered Nurse Amanda Spence picks up a delivery from Moxi.

Image courtesy of ChristianaCare

Even simple tasks can take up a big part of a nurse’s day. At Christiana Hospital in Philadelphia, part of the ChristianaCare network, nurses are getting a helping hand from an unlikely source: a collaborative robot, or “cobot.”

ChristianaCare is piloting the innovative tool called Moxi, a cobot that can make deliveries and perform other non-clinical tasks, giving nurses and other clinical staff more time to devote to patient care. 

“Nurses need the time and space to deliver care and patient education at the top of their license,” says Ric Cuming, R.N., NEA-BC, FAAN, chief nurse executive and president, ChristianaCare HomeHealth. “Moxi will be doing those hunting and gathering tasks such as getting equipment and supplies, which nurses are doing today but don’t need to be doing.”

With a $1.5 million grant from the American Nurses Foundation, ChristianaCare will deploy a total of five Moxi cobots at Christiana Hospital. Created by Diligent Robotics, Austin, Texas, the Moxi cobots are integrated with the hospital’s electronic health records platform and use artificial intelligence to identify when nurses will need equipment, supplies, medications and lab tests. Cobots, which are intended to assist rather than replace nurses, share workspace and interact directly with people.

The Moxi cobots will be deployed to 11 inpatient units, partnering with more than 400 nurses. The cobots work in 22-hour shifts, need only two hours of charging time and can carry about 70 pounds. 

Moxi’s “social intelligence” prevents it from bumping into people or objects and allows it to wave when it sees someone new and happily pose for selfies. Moxi can learn to use its robotic arm to operate existing automatic doors and elevator panels. The cobots also perform tasks without human involvement, including delivering items to patients, making rounds to deliver lab samples and prioritizing tasks based on nursing workload. 

Using the American Nurses Foundation grant, ChristianaCare also plans to conduct research on driving nursing outcomes through robotics. “We have a transformative opportunity to generate new knowledge and to move the science forward around robotics in nursing,” says Susan Birkhoff, R.N., nurse scientist at ChristianaCare.