Alexa Smart Properties Launches Tools for Hospitals and Senior Living Communities
Amazon unveiled two new programs to bring Alexa to hospitals and senior living communities. The new variants of the Alexa Smart Properties program allow administrators to use Alexa for communications, entertainment, and community management. The programs build on Amazon’s push for Alexa in hospitality that has encompassed many new hotels and theme parks.
Alexa Smart Properties created the new variants for senior living and healthcare providers to streamline setting up and managing the system even with many devices in place. Patients or long-term guests can use the Echo smart speakers or any other Alexa-enabled device in their room, much like a standard device. The difference is the bonus, localized features that let users reach out to the staff and get information relevant to people staying there, such as menus and schedules. The staff can do the same, using the Drop In feature to check on patients remotely. And family and friends can reach their loved ones by calling them through the device. The pilot programs ran at several hospitals and senior care homes, including Atria, Eskaton, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. Hospitals and care centers can also leverage the platform for building their own HIPAA-eligible Alexa skills for things like tracking medication.
“We believe the intuitive and accessible nature of voice and Alexa has the potential to help and delight customers in many scenarios, in and outside of the home,” Alexa smart properties head Liron Torres said. “We’re excited to extend the experiences customers already love to senior living communities and healthcare systems, and give providers new ways to save time and personalize care for their patients and residents.”
Voice assistants are quickly finding homes in senior living communities and hospitals, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantines set up at many assisted living communities. Amazon isn’t the first to combine its technology for the use of senior care. Tech solutions for seniors developer K4Connect recently integrated its software for assisted living communities with the Amazon Echo Show smart display. The K4Community Alexa skill takes advantage of the Alexa Management APIs released by Amazon, allowing for multimodal software experiences. The skill builds on the partnership between K4Connect, and the non-profit North Carolina Assisted Living Association (NCALA) that saw more than 1,400 Amazon Echo Show 8 smart displays installed in around 1,200 North Carolina assisted living communities early on this year. That’s after K4Connect distributed more than 8,000 Echo Dot smart speakers donated by Amazon to retirement communities on the west coast last year.
The new programs combine the growing presence of Alexa in hospitality with its growing suite of senior care technology. Last year, Amazon brought out the Alexa Care Hub, which allows people from one home to consensually use a loved one’s Alexa-enabled smart device to keep track of their activity and serve as an emergency contact for Alexa to call. The new Alexa Together tool introduced this year adds an optional Remote Assist feature to set and share reminders and shopping lists. There’s already evidence the devices can be helpful. Project Zilver and Voice for Loneliness have both published studies showing how voice assistants can be comforting companions, along with keeping people connected by phone and video calls.
“Voice is intuitive for patients, regardless of age or tech savviness,” Cedars-Sinai. executive director of medical and surgical services Peachy Hain said. “Since it’s so easy to operate, patients can use Alexa to connect with their care team and stay entertained as soon as they settle in, while care providers can streamline tasks to make more time to care for those patients. It’s a total gamechanger for enhancing our hospital experience.”