Artificial Intelligence in Nursing

So, you’re a nurse. Let’s say you work on a busy, adult med/surg floor and your manager tells everyone at the next staff meeting that management is going to make some changes. They’re hiring new staff – that’s good, right? Everyone agrees that’s great! Well, these aren’t your typical ‘new hires.’ The new staff member is named Moxi. And Moxi, is a robot.

 If you’re like me, my nursey senses said ‘gah! absolutely not!’ How can a robot integrate into a busy medical environment? It’s a fast paced environment that requires critical thinking skills along with finely tuned communication and people skills. This isn’t the time or place to conduct some kind of “Jetsons” experiment!

But let’s get real, there‘s a nationwide shortage of nurses and it’s not getting better anytime soon. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.”  This is scary. How is health care supposed to keep up, and how are nurses going to be expected to adapt? Well, it turns out that a few hospitals in Texas have taken the leap into the future…and they love it.

Moxi was designed and built by a company called Diligent Robotics, and Moxi’s tasks are to lighten the load of nursing staff. Moxi takes care of the approximate 30% of tasks that don’t require interacting with patients, like running errands or taking specimens to the lab. 

According to Andrea Thomaz, CEO of Diligent Robotics, in an interview with FastCompany, “we’re helping them augment their staff…everyone is trying to make the nurses they have go further.” Moxi is programmed into the hospital’s electronic health record system, so when a nurse charts anything that leads to a task like lab draws or patient discharge, Moxi can pick up that chore immediately. According to Thomaz in the FastCompany interview, “Moxi supports clinical staff by augmenting logistical tasks that limit valuable patient care time.” This kind of system means that nurses don’t actually have to tell Moxi what to do – Moxi just knows. Amazing, right?

Well, it took several years to get Moxi to the point where she was ready to work independently within the hospital. And while Moxi’s job is to relieve the nursing staff of as many mundane tasks as possible, staff and patients alike are finding that Moxi brings some new energy to the ward. Apparently patients take selfies with Moxi, and one pediatric patient wrote the team at Diligent Robotics asking where Moxi lived. This prompted the design team to program Moxi with features that made her more social; once an hour she wanders the floor flashing heart eyes at people and takes a “social lap” to talk to her fans. I mean, come on. That’s adorable.

So when does Moxi start? Well, slow and steady steps mean that Moxi is going to be working within three or four hospitals in Texas later this year. Moxi’s team envisions that robots will be designed to augment, rather than replace, human workers. Think about it, 30-50% of your day could be freed up to spend time with your patients and address the responsibilities that brought us into health care in the first place. Will there be downsides? Sure! But we’re creative types, we’re innovators too. And if having Moxi on my team means I’ll get heart eyes throughout the day, I’ll welcome her with open arms.

This is the kind of nursing and health care innovation that gets our team at Nurse-1-1 fired up.  Our passionate team of nurses help people navigate to the right level of care. We enable people to chat with our nurses to get answers to health questions. 

We take people away from Google, where they often worry themselves needlessly. We help them find the proper level of care for their situation, whether that’s urgent care, contacting their primary care provider, or just staying home.  

If you’re a nurse and your clinic or health plan could benefit from innovation like this, we’d love to talk!  Just let us know below and we’ll get back to you shortly.  

–Meri Clare, BSN, CCRN