Wolters Kluwer Launches Alexa Skill for Proactive Health Checkups After Hospital Visits
Clinical health tech provider Wolters Kluwer, Health has published a new skill for Alexa designed to improve the recovery of hospital patients after they are discharged. The Emmi Care Plan skill enables the voice assistant to prompt a patient to answer questions about their health post-discharge, with the responses sent to their healthcare providers.
Leaving a hospital doesn’t mean that a patient has finished recovering, and it’s normal for patients to make return visits to their doctor, or at least have a phone conversation. The Emmi Care Plan skill brings that function to Alexa. The user sets up the skill, connecting it with their doctor’s patient care records. Based on the schedule set up by the doctor and patient, Alexa will announce when it’s time for a check-up and walk the user through a conversation about how they are feeling and related health questions. The patient can also then ask Alexa to start the skill and report any changes to their health that they’ve noticed whenever they want. To start, the Alexa skill is limited to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients, asking if they’ve been around smokers, if they’ve used their rescue inhaler, and responding appropriately to what the patient says.
Wolters Kluwer acquired Emmi Solutions in 2016 and has been expanding the platform regularly since. EmmiTransition launched a couple of years ago, with a synthetic voice designed to sound empathetic, calling patients on the phone to ask them follow-up questions. The Alexa skill adds a new facet to the service, acknowledging the growing presence of smart speakers and other voice assistant-enabled devices in people’s homes. For now, the voice app is only for Alexa, but it’s reasonable to imagine Wolters Kluwer eventually adding a version for Google Assistant or other platforms.
“For providers, the Emmi Care Plan skill adds a new layer of interaction to stay connected to consumers using the Alexa-enabled devices that are already an integral part of their day-to-day activities,” Wolters Kluwer, Health vice president of patient engagement for clinical effectiveness Jason Burum said in a statement. “As clinicians engage with patients over time, they will gain new insights on their care journey at home. When risks for a change in the patient’s condition are identified, their care team is notified for follow-up.”
AI-assisted healthcare has become a major focus in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical professionals are adopting voice AI and chatbots to help cope. That includes coronavirus-focused virtual assistants to answer questions and perform triage. The spread of voice AI as a record-keeping tool has accelerated as well, drawing funding and clients to startups like Saykara and Suki. Voice tech developer Nuance has been quick to add new features and partners for its medical voice AI Doctors with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently started using the Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant for recording their telehealth calls. Meanwhile, health technology developer Cerner added Dragon to its platform this summer, allowing doctors using Cerner’s platform to fill in and search electronic health records (EHRs) of patients by voice. Doctors use Nuance’s ambient clinical intelligence (ACI) to transcribe telehealth conversations over Microsoft Teams and fill in EHRs.
Wolters Kluwer has become a Nuance associate as well. Doctors can now the UpToDate database of clinical topics by voice, obtaining answers about treatments, medication doses, and potential side effects far faster than before. Turning the EmmiTransition service into the Emmi Care Plan skill reflects a similar impulse to move faster on using voice AI to make things easier on doctors while not stinting on the amount of care a patient receives.
“The COVID pandemic forged a path to healthcare’s digital front door, accelerating the adoption of virtual care,” Burum said. “Health systems are looking for effective ways to nurture a spectrum of quality patient encounters beyond video appointments.”