Alexa in hospital rooms to improve healthcare

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Having the device in hospital rooms allows patients to make hands-free requests for medications, help using the restroom, their favorite music, television programming, information about what’s on the menu and more.

Nurses say they like having Alexa in hospital rooms, and so do patients.

Aiva, a patient-centered voice assistant platform for hospitals, includes Amazon Echo devices that are placed in patient rooms. Much like consumers would ask Alexa to do things in their homes, patients ask the device for help and assistance in the hospital.

Alexa in hospital rooms maintains patient privacy

It is not just like adding an Alexa device into the room, it actually works through the Aiva program, a company that worked with Google on configuration to make sure this is something we can use. It works with our devices, like our call-light system.”

And having Alexa in hospital rooms is HIPAA compliant.

There’s nothing stored on it that has patient information.

The hospital is gathering data, including if and how patients use it and if it helps nurses, to determine whether it will offer Alexa in rooms hospital-wide.

Patients simply tell Alexa what they need. If it’s a request to play a type of music, get an update on the weather, watch something specific on TV, etc., Alexa handles the task.

If it’s a request for care, Alexa routes that directly to a pocket phone of a nurse, nursing assistant, administrator or the kitchen, if it has to do with food service.

A pain medicine request would be routed to a registered nurse, for example, while a bathroom request would be routed to a clinical partner,” according to a Cedars-Sinai press release. “If the request is not answered in a timely manner, the Aiva platform sends it up the chain of command.

It really cuts the times for our responses because the patient is able to say, ‘Alexa, ask the nurse for pain medication. And then it alerts the nurses on their phones. It bypasses the whole system and goes directly to them.

Patients can opt not to have Alexa turned on in their rooms but few do.

What has been found in the initial few months that Alexa has been used it is the patients who do use it are very happy with it. Sometimes when patients are confused and they listen to music in their language or from their generation, it helps calm them down.

Other benefits of making Alexa available to patients

With time, nurses and others are finding new uses for Alexa.

For example, when a patient is admitted, we ask all patients to watch the fall prevention video,” she said. “In the past, patients would have to turn on the TV, find the channel, look for the program, and then play it. In this case, they’re able to say ‘Alexa, turn on the TV. Alexa, play the fall prevention video.’”

It is relatively easy to educate patients about how to use the technology. Sometimes nurses or nursing assistants do the educating. Volunteers or secretaries also go around to patient rooms each day to point out features of the technology or help patients use it.

In some hospitals, there are large three-dimensional cards on patient tables that remind patients that they have Alexa in the room.

Even intensive care unit and operating room staff might benefit from the technology. For example, ICU nurses can request help from another nurse using Alexa in hospital rooms.

In the operating room, you can say ‘Alexa tell the technician to bring me a sterile set’.

The Aiva platform is evolving, including looking to add more languages.

Alexa isn’t the only smart hospital room device. The staff also offer hospitalized patients iPads on which they can access their medical records.

While the data is still out on whether Alexa in hospital rooms improves the patient experience and saves nurses time, having the technology frees nurses to do what they need to do.





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