KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The newest employee at one Kansas City hospital is getting some funny looks from patients.
St. Luke’s Heath System is experimenting with robots to perform basic tasks around the hospital. Two robots — both which are named Moxi — are roaming the hospital’s hallways.
They’ve been in use for nearly a month, and hospital administrators are programming them to deliver prescription medicines from the pharmacy to nurses’ stations. The robots have a secure drawer where items for delivery can be stored.
“It wasn’t that unique for us because we leverage technology to help us do our jobs every day,” Chuck Welch, one of the hospital’s nursing managers, said.
Welch is among the St. Luke’s employees who like this idea. The hospital’s public relations staff said use of robots is saving nurses 30% of their work day, which is time they’re now able to apply toward patient care.
“In the industry, and not just in our industry, but worldwide, staffing is a challenge. We’re looking at ways to leverage technology to help address those challenges,” Welch said.
When Moxi speaks, the robot’s chirpy voice sounds like the dog from the cartoon Blue’s Clues.
Moxi isn’t being used to meet with patients. In just its first three weeks of use, it’s been programmed to deliver and retrieve 500 items for the staff, according to St. Luke’s leaders.
“There’s no secret there’s a pharmacy technician shortage out there. That’s across the board,” Connor Flanagan, the hospital’s pharmacy operations manager, said. “This helps our current staff, who do a really good job and work really hard to give them some relief.”
The team at St Luke’s emphasizes — Moxie is not here to take anyone’s job or phase anyone out. Technology experts at the hospital said the robot is used to help employees use their energy to accomplish the most important tasks.
St. Luke’s managers are still evaluating the best ways to use this new technology.