Is Alexa the Newest Member of the Health-Care Team?

Hospitals are exploring new ways to incorporate voice-activated technologies like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant into patient visits, suggesting a future in which these devices become virtual members of medical teams.

Several hospitals have already invested in the technology. Northwell Health is preparing to use Alexa in private rooms so patients can access their medical records with simple voice instructions. Mayo Clinic is piloting an Alexa-enabled program that delivers discharge instructions to patients and is looking into how monitoring patients’ voices can help diagnose cardiovascular disease. Boston Children’s Hospital also is taking advantage of the voice-activation technologies’ hands-free use and immediate access to information by helping prepare doctors for transplant surgeries.

Technology companies are racing to develop new products and services that can be appropriately used in health-care settings. For example, Sopris Health created voice software that is compatible with electronic medical records and complies with U.S. patient privacy laws. The product automatically converts doctor-patient conversations into text that is then loaded into a doctor’s note.

“We believe that the technology that exists in patients’ homes will be a demand that patients will have sooner than later,” Vishwanath Anantraman, MD, chief innovation architect at Northwell Health, told STAT News. “Voice tech can help improve service requests and deliver real-time analytics to the staff to ensure patient satisfaction and patient safety.”

Source: STAT News, February 6, 2019.