March 25, 2020

Mobile Robots and COVID-19 – Helping Healthcare Workers

Right now, it’s all hands and feet on deck at healthcare organizations in communities around the world.  The healthcare worker is on the front line of the current outbreak and needs every resource made available to support them.   Aethon’s mobile robots could be one way healthcare organizations cope with the COVID-19 crisis today and be more prepared for tomorrow.

For over 15 years Aethon has made it their mission to support healthcare workers so their time can be better spent on things that matter most – patient care.  This isn’t a part time university project, or an unproven new-to-market innovation.  All we do at Aethon is focus our efforts on autonomous indoor delivery robots.  Our commercialized solutions dutifully carry out their mission of delivering medications, lab specimens and meals along with handling larger loads such as linens and trash.  Our hospitals perform over 5 million deliveries per year with our robots.

While coronavirus or  COVID-19 is dominating the headlines for the strain it’s placing on healthcare, hospitals also must continue to manage their typical patient population.  Providing for the entire hospital is necessary since it’s a complete and contained system running almost as its own indoor city.  Aethon’s customers use our autonomous mobile robots across departments and throughout old and new facilities.

We know many of our customers are chasing more than efficiency right now.  They are trying to keep their staff safe and healthy – along with their patients in this fight against COVID-19.  Our robots are providing the hospital staff relief from miles of walking every day.  Since the first week of February, specific hospital customers located in hot spots around the country have increased their robot utilization by over 30% compared to their weekly average through 2019.  This relief from the load of COVID-19 patients is welcome on an hour-to-hour and day-to-day basis but becomes more pronounced as the demands on physical labor increase in duration and intensity.   

Further, Aethon’s robots allow greater social distancing since the mobile robot can perform transportation tasks through the hospital while people stay in their respective work areas.  The robot doesn’t sneeze in the elevator or touch a door handle when making a delivery.   The robot doesn’t become infected with coronavirus and asymptomatic for days on end transmitting COVID-19 to others.  It can move through quarantine areas without concern and be cleaned and ready for use without risk to personal safety.  

While we cannot supply more N95 masks, we can deliver them.  We can’t increase testing capacity, but we can move the specimens.  We don’t make the medications that help patients recover from COVID-19, but our robots can make sure the pharmacy is supplying the nursing staff efficiently.  Our mobile robots help healthcare organizations improve their preparedness for such an outbreak as we are now experiencing.  We’ve always been proud to serve healthcare workers – but no prouder than we are today. 

Our people are dedicated and our team is taking its own precautions so we can continue to support our customers 24/7/365 as we always have.  We are grateful to our customers who have led the way over the years.  We know there isn’t a substitute for the human element of care but also know there’s a place for robots among us because we see how our customers are relying on them. 

It just might be that robots help us be more human after all.

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