Technology has delivered on its promise to create more efficiencies across many industries throughout the world in recent years. From large manufacturing operations to small companies working toward better customer service, the advancement of tech in today’s fast-paced, hyper-connected world offers unique advantages to those willing to embrace change. While many business environments have been quick to adopt changes toward a more digital experience, healthcare has been slow to join the movement. However, recent news highlights the growing enthusiasm for tech tools in practise among nurses and hospital staff alike.
Built by Diligent Robotics, a socially intelligent robot by the name of Moxi is on the brink of bringing much-needed relief to nursing departments. Instead of being designed to take part in patient interactions and care, Moxi works to perform a variety of logistical tasks for nurses. The American-based technology firm behind Moxi leans heavily on artificial intelligence and smart sensors to help the robot get around safely. Its arm and gripping hand gives it the ability to move items from one place to the next throughout a hospital, without nurse of staff interaction. The introduction of this robotic assistant to the hospital floor has far-reaching implications for staff and patient alike.
Healthcare Staffing Challenges
One of the reasons robotics in healthcare presents such an opportunity to nursing staff is the stark reality of staffing challenges, particularly throughout a long-embattled NHS. Recent statistics highlight the fact that nursing shortages run rampant in the nation’s healthcare system, with hospitals able to recruit only one nurse for every 400 vacancies. Combined with midwifery posts, England’s vacancy rate reached an all-time high in mid-2018, sparking concern over the ability to rectify the issue in the months and years to come.
Staffing challenges have been growing throughout the healthcare professions around the world for some time, based on several factors. Specific to the NHS, however, stagnant pay, long hours, and growing patient populations all come together to create the perfect storm for healthcare – and patients. Without a way to ease these burdens, those who depend on the NHS for care stand to suffer indefinitely.
The Impact on Patient Care
All patients expect to receive the best quality care when visiting a hospital after an accident, injury, or illness, and throughout the NHS, nursing staff are trained well to provide such quality in delivering care. However, a law firm specialised in medical malpractice claims explains that underlying issues that lead to staffing shortages can have a drastic impact on patient care. Ranging level of burnout by overworked nurses and a general lack of physical and mental well-being plague the NHS, creating poor patient safety outcomes including medical errors. Recent research suggests that these issues common among nurses may be linked to staffing shortages, alongside a diminishing focus on nurse well-being.
Improving patient care, then, circles back to improving the lives and working environments of nursing and clinical staff across the board. A helping hand like Moxi is meant to take the burden off the shoulders of nurses when it comes to mundane, simple, yet necessary tasks, including restocking, retrieving medical supplies, or setting up patient rooms. Nurses spend less time tackling logistical and administrative responsibilities, ultimately increasing their time with patients and their families. With less stress associated with the behind-the-scenes work that can be managed by a robot like Moxi, nurses are more likely to be focused on the most important task – quality patient care.
A Look Toward the Future of Healthcare Tech
While Moxi has not yet made its debut in UK hospitals, its design and functionality show a great deal of promise for healthcare at large. Introducing technology like artificial intelligence and robotics within hospital settings has already taken place in some locations around the world. AI-powered robots are already assisting with surgical procedures, creating greater precision on the operating table. Similarly, artificial intelligence has been used successfully in research settings to help quickly and accurately diagnose certain conditions, including skin cancer. Technology is also being used behind the scenes to help with scheduling, patient analytics, and the automation of administrative tasks.
Each of these exciting opportunities for technology and healthcare to come together paint an optimistic picture of the future. Over time, as advanced digital tools like Moxi make their way into the mainstream, there is little doubt that patient outcomes will improve based on less-stressed, more empowered nurses and clinical staff.