Asynchronous Robotic Delivery for Better Logistics and Better Care

Period of Performance: 06/02/2017 - 11/30/2017

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Vecna Technologies, Inc.
6404 Ivy Lane Array
Greenbelt, MD 20770
Principal Investigator

Abstract

An estimated 30%-46% of hospital budgets are spent on logistics activities such as moving medications, supplies, devices, charts, and surgical instruments through the supply chain to where they are needed at the point of care. At the same time nurses are only able to spend approximately 31% of their day on direct patient care due to non-value-added logistics and administrative responsibilities. In addition, the downstream cost of ineffective logistics is enormous as patient safety issues often result when the right medication isn't available or when staff are unavailable or continually interrupted by poor processes. The proposed research investigates the feasibility of a new approach to robotic delivery of medications and supplies. This innovation addresses limitations of both current human and robotic approaches to delivery and is able to securely and autonomously pick up and drop off supplies in a new way. Instead of altering human work?ows to accommodate a robot, the robot instead accommodates humans through its specialized delivery systems. This approach transparently integrates the robots into daily work?ow, reducing stress on staff and minimizing the interruptions that often cause errors. As a result, staff spend less time hunting down supplies and medications and devote more attention to the care of patients. Infrastructure and associated costs are reduced, ?exibility is increased, and robots can serve a much greater number and variety of delivery locations. The objectives of this Phase I research project will be to test the feasibility of the proposed system, and to formalize a design and plan in preparation for a successful Phase II project. The methods to be employed include signi?cant use of simulation and modeling tools, rapid prototyping and 3D printing, automated mechanical testing, user-centric design, and A/B testing. If the research proves successful, improvements in the ?ow of materials through hospitals will have a positive impact on healthcare costs, staff satisfaction and patient safety.