Los Angeles medical center Cedars-Sinai is currently piloting a program that places Amazon Echos in more than 100 patient rooms. The smart speakers use Aiva, a voice assistant platform for healthcare, and is intended to help patients communicate with their caregivers. Letting patients use Alexa to perform basic tasks like changing TV channels also frees up nurses to perform medical care.
Backed by Amazon’s Alexa Fund and the Google Assistant Investment Program, Aiva also participated in the Cedars-Sina accelerator program for healthcare startups. The platform also works with Google Home.
After a patient tells Alexa what they need, Aiva routes it to the right person’s mobile phone. For example, if someone needs medicine, their request goes to a registered nurse. If a response takes too long, Aiva reroutes the request “up the chain of command.”
Voice assistants are currently being tested in several capacities in healthcare. For example, voice assistants in Boston Children’s intensive care unit let nurses ask for administrative information, like who is the charge nurse on duty or how many beds are available in a ward. Boston Children’s also piloted voice-enabled versions of the checklist used to validate organs before transplant, with prompts to help reduce error. KidsMD, a program powered by Alexa, is meant to be used by parents at home to help them decide if their kids need to see a doctor.
Amazon still holds the top position in the smart speaker market, and likewise Alexa is currently the voice assistant most often used by hospitals, according to Healthcare IT News. So far, its devices have been used in Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Commonwealth Care Alliance, Northwell Health in New York, and Libertana Home Health in Los Angeles, in addition to Cedars-Sinai.