Northwell Health Adds 4,000 Amazon Echo Shows to Hospitals for Talking with COVID-19 Patients
New York healthcare provider Northwell Health is adding around 4,000 Amazon Echo Show smart displays to its hospitals to help medical staff communicate with patients in isolation due to COVID-19 infection, according to a Newsday report. Northwell is installing the devices to connect patients and their caregivers without requiring the protective gear necessary to be with the patient in person.
COVID-19 is highly contagious, which is why it spread so quickly over the last few months. To stay safe, doctors have to use masks, gloves, and other protective equipment when speaking with those diagnosed with the virus. By putting smart displays in the patient’s room, doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff can set up video chats relatively quickly and easily. That makes it easier to check in on the patient without using up any protective gear. It also reduces the loneliness people kept quarantined from others may be feeling, especially as they can’t receive any visitors in person.
The smart displays will be distributed around Northwell’s 19 hospitals, more than doubling the 2,800 already in place. Another 1,000 smart displays are on their way to the network as well. Northwell tested out the program at North Shore University Hospital before deciding to expand it across its network. The cost of the program has not been revealed as of yet.
Hospitals all over the world are exploring using voice AI as a way to interact with quarantined patients. Israeli startup temi developed a robot that is popular for healthcare in hospitals and homes. The company, which recently raised a $15 million funding round, has hundreds of robots in hospitals and nursing homes where they act as an intermediary to physicians by speaking with patients, providing medicine, and checking vital signs. That’s similar to how Irish startup CR Robotics’s cat-faced voice-controlled robot is being sent out to help care for older people at home.
Human interaction is crucial when people feel lonely, but even Alexa or other voice assistants can be companions as studies by Project Zilver and Voice for Loneliness have demonstrated. And even outside a hospital, the COVID-19 quizzes offered by the major voice assistants and voice apps like WellSaid.ai can be useful for people to track their own health without having to visit the doctor.