Is Alexa coming to a hospital near you?

Cedars-Sinai | 02/27/2019

Virtual-assistant technology enables hands-free interaction with nurses.

Is Alexa coming to a hospital near you?

Pilot program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, is studying use of Echo smart speakers in patient rooms.

A pilot program underway in more than 100 patient rooms at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, is enabling patients to use an Alexa-powered platform known as Aiva to control—hands-free—their entertainment and interaction with nurses. Aiva is the world's first patient-centered voice assistant platform for hospitals.

In the pilot project, patient rooms are equipped with Amazon Echos, and patients simply tell the device what they need. For example, patients can turn their TV off and on and change channels by giving verbal commands, such as “Alexa, change the channel to ESPN.” A patient who needs assistance getting out of bed might say, “Alexa, tell my nurse I need to get up to use the restroom.”

The patient's request is routed to the mobile phone of the appropriate caregiver, whether a nurse, clinical partner, manager, or administrator. A pain medicine request would be routed to a registered nurse, for example, while a bathroom request would be routed to a clinical partner. If the request is not answered in a timely manner, the Aiva platform sends it up the chain of command.

"Whereas previously nurses were frequently asked to help with the in-room television, Alexa does that job for us, allowing nurses to focus on providing the highest level of patient care," says Golda Morales, assistant nurse manager of the surgery department.

In addition to interaction with the patient's healthcare team, the devices at Cedars-Sinai include standard Alexa features, allowing patients to feel more connected to the outside world. Currently, the most common command is for the device to play music, followed by requests related to weather, sports, and games.

Nurse Peachy Hain, Cedars-Sinai's executive director of medical and surgical services, was a driving force behind bringing Alexa to patient rooms.

"Patients young and old are now used to voice-activated devices in their homes. Since it's familiar to them, it helps enhance their hospital experience," Hain says. "In the hospital, patients have little to distract them from pain or loneliness."

Cedars-Sinai and Aiva are moving patient interaction into the 21st century, when hospital rooms will need more intelligence and convenience to accommodate changing patient needs.

"Smart rooms are all about improving satisfaction for both patients and nurses," says Sumeet Bhatia, founder and CEO of Aiva. "Cedars-Sinai and Aiva are giving patients more entertainment options, more control over their environment, and closer communication with their care team."

The Alexa program joins innovations such as the MyChart Bedside app and Cedars-Sinai's iPad project in modernizing patient communications. More than 250 tablets equipped with the MyChart bedside app are now available for hospitalized patients, who can use the app to check their medical record information, including lab results and the names and photos of their care team.

Source: Cedars-Sinai

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