[WATCH] Robot Mario will provide you with your medicine

Medicine robot is Mater Dei Hospital's newest staff member

Mario is Mater Dei's first medicine robot
Mario is Mater Dei's first medicine robot
Get your free medicine from Mario the robot

Mario is Mater Dei's first medicine robot which will help doctors and nurses prescribe the right medicine, the right dosage, and potentially eliminate all human error that could result in intoxication from dangerous chemical combination.

Despite the name, Mario is not an anthropomorphic robot, nor is he considered an Artificial Intelligence. He is a box-like refrigerator paired up to computers and laptops in use by doctors and nurses.

Doctors issue a barcode for their respective patients. When the barcode is scanned by nurses and pharmacists, the computer launches a software called Sofia which will show the exact dosage and type of medication prescribed by the doctor.

Mario will then issue that treatment into a smart trolley, which will be delivered to the patient. While the machinery costs €12 million, the government won't be paying a lump sum since the agreement with contractor Deenova is that the government will fork out the payment with the money the project will generate via logistic efficiency.

"In hospital, pneumatic tubes attached to Mario will deliver the medicine prescribed to the patients in their respective wards," Mike Farrugia said. He is a management consultant who introduced Mario at Mater Dei on Monday.

Mater Dei CEO Ivan Falzon said that the basis of Mario and Sofia is simplicity and that every tool the hospital invested in should focus on efficiency, simplicity and how to create a framework to cater for patient safety.

"We also invested in upgrades in the hospital which will complement this project. Mario is considered innovative in the world and is being replicated in places like Holland and Germany," he said.

Health minister Chris Fearne announced that there would be 17 Mario robots in Mater Dei and many others in pharmacies across the Maltese islands.

"Mario will practically eliminate all human error, such as doctors prescribing the wrong drugs or nurses replacing them. Still, the best resource will always remain the human resource," Fearne said, adding that the project of distributing Mario across Malta will be completed within two years.

He also said that the contract with Deenova is for 15 years.