Amazon is making its way into U.S. hospitals by equipping some of them with its Alexa digital voice assistant. The company announced on Monday
that patients being treated at Boston Children's Hospital, Cedars-Sinai in California, BayCare in Florida, and Houston Methodist will soon have access to Alexa. With Alexa, patients will be able to contact the staff inside the hospital while also controlling devices inside their rooms.
Digital assistant Alexa is making her way into hospitals and senior care facilities
Hospital patients will be able to connect to Alexa through an Amazon Echo smart device placed inside the rooms of the hospital. Using Alexa to contact hospital staff could end unnecessary room visits by nurses and Doctors that are made to check in on a patient. Amazon says, "This enables hospitals to increase productivity, conserve medical supplies and protective equipment, such as masks, gloves, and gowns, and free up staff time to provide more personalized care."
An Echo smart display can be used by doctors to virtually treat patients
Starting next month, the hospitals that are part of this program will use Amazon's Alexa Smart Properties system. These healthcare providers will be able to enable HIPAA-compliant features such as medication tracking for the devices. Besides hospitals, some senior living homes run by the providers Atria and Eskaton will also offer Alexa. Various hotels and offices already use the digital assistant.
Amazon ran trial programs worldwide during the pandemic last year donating Echo Show smart displays and Fire tablets to allow patients to connect virtually with healthcare workers. In a report from Quartz, Amazon said that hospitals were giving the company feedback stating that the trials were not giving patients and the hospitals what both sides needed.
An Amazon spokesperson said, "Using that feedback, we created a solution tailored specifically for hospitals and solution providers with features to address those needs - like adding Drop In functionality and the ability to enable and manage HIPAA skills on devices within the property."
Liron Torres, Head of Alexa Smart Properties, Amazon said, "We believe the intuitive and accessible nature of voice and Alexa has the potential to help and delight customers in many scenarios, in and outside of the home. We're excited to extend the experiences customers already love to senior living communities and healthcare systems, and give providers new ways to save time and personalize care for their patients and residents."
With Alexa Smart Properties, senior living residents are able to use the Amazon Echo device in their rooms to keep in touch with loved ones, connect with the community, access community news, and more. And family members and friends of those living in the facility can rest easier knowing that they can easily get in touch with the patient by using Alexa calling.
This could be a win-win-win situation for patients, the healthcare facilities, and Amazon
Peachy Hain, executive director of medical and surgical services at Cedars-Sinai, called the use of Alexa in patient rooms "a total gamechanger." She added that "Regardless of age or tech savviness," Alexa can be used to "connect with their care team and stay entertained as soon as they settle in, while care providers can streamline tasks to make more time to care for those patients."
Yes, this is a win-win-win situation for everyone involved. The patient can get in touch with those taking care of him, the doctors can cover more patients without having to physically go in and out of rooms, and Amazon can sell many more Alexa-enabled devices. And in addition to being able to check in with patients without having to enter and exit their rooms multiple times, using Alexa means that doctors and nurses won't have to continually put on and pull off the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that many healthcare workers need to don these days because of the pandemic.
But even when the pandemic comes to an end, Alexa can be a big help as patients speak to their doctors from their beds, request another pillow, and more.