A healthcare technology company has developed a robot that helps patients better manage their treatment plan at home and feel less alone while doing so.

Mabu, a tabletop robot with animated eyes, guides its owner through brief conversations about treatment topics such as medications, diet and fitness using a tablet-like screen. Programmed using behavioral psychology models, Mabu gradually learns the interaction style of the patient and modifies its conversation regularly to promote behavior change. The information is shared with developer Catalia Health’s provider customers using a HIPAA-compliant cloud-based back end system.

The robot’s constant physical presence extends the provider-patient relationship and eases the isolation that can come with managing diseases like congestive heart failure, said company CEO Cory Kidd. Using educational information from sources such as the American Heart Association, the device addresses symptoms, side effects and psychosocial issues such as stress, anxiety and depression.

Mabu and similar devices “are not replacing people,” Kidd said. “We’re helping to fill in gaps when the provider is unable to be there, and help the patient get data back to the doctor, nurse or pharmacist, so that they have a better sense of what’s going on.”