Alexa Added to 100+ Hospital Rooms at LA’s Cedars-Sinai
Cedars-Sinai hospital announced last week that it was piloting a system called Aiva, which included equipping more than 100 patient rooms with an Amazon Echo Dot. Cedars-Sinai calls the Aiva program “the world’s first patient-centered voice assistant platform for hospitals.” Cedars-Sinai Executive Director of Medical and Surgical Services, Peachy Hain, commented on Aiva pilot program, saying,
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.
Aiva Health graduated from Cedars-Sinai’s startup accelerator in late 2017 and in 2018 raised funding from both Google parent Alphabet and Amazon’s Alexa Fund. The terms of that funding round were not disclosed. Prior to the funding from Alphabet and Amazon, Aiva had raised $920,000 from its accelerator participation in late 2017 and from Mucker Capital, Rightside Capital Management and Act One Ventures in January 2017.
Healthcare Assistance Focus
Alexa allows patients to request typical commands, such as control television channels. A patient can say “Alexa, change the channel to ESPN” in order to use their room hands-free. Most notably, however, the Aiva pilot program has a healthcare focus, allowing patients to ask for a nurse’s assistance. If a patient wants to contact a nurse, they can say “Alexa, tell my nurse I need to use the restroom.” A request is then sent to the mobile phone of the appropriate person. The appropriate person could be a caregiver, nurse, clinical partner, manager, or administrator depending on the request. For example, asking for assistance to use the restroom would send a request to a clinical partner. Asking for pain medicine would send a request to a nurse. If the request is not answered right away, Avia will send the request to the next person in the chain of command.
Alexa Also Serves as a Companion During A Hospital Stay
Cedars-Sinai patients most commonly use Alexa to play music, find out about weather and sports, as well as play voice-based games, according to Cedars-Sinai’s own observations. Adrienne Edwards said Alexa helped to distract her after abdominal surgery. She commented:
I was lonely in the hospital and I said, ‘Alexa, would you be my friend?’ The device responded, ‘Of course we could be friends. You seem nice.”
Adoption of Voice Assistants in Healthcare Seen in Multiple Ways
The adoption of voice assistants in healthcare is rising and can be seen in many different applications. Consider the Omron Healthcare Alexa skill that allows users to access their latest blood pressure reading, and flag anything that is higher than usual. Or, the Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant that was developed in the Fall of 2017 by Nuance in order to help healthcare providers facilitate clinical workflows. Stanley Black & Decker announced at CES 2019 the development of a healthcare home companion, Pria, that helps users keep track of medication, stay in touch with loved ones, all while using an in-house voice assistant. Mayo Clinic recently announced a Google Assistant action and a voice-interactive chatbot to correspond with the company’s existing Alexa skill. Users of the Mayo Clinic voice applications can request information on first-aid topics, including care instructions and quick answers to common maladies. The news about the inclusion of 100+ Alexa devices in patients rooms is evidence of further expansion.