Anyone who has ever been hospitalized remembers times when assistance was needed and despite using the call button to request help had to wait a long time for assistance. On one particular hospitalization I remember the nurse telling me that I had to call her in order to use the bathroom. I was taking a diuretic and I had to go dozens of times. Each time I called for the nurse however, I had to wait and wait and wait. Her suggestion, that I keep a bed pan was unacceptable.
Virtual assistants have the potential to dramatically change this common hospitalization annoyance. Introducing Aiva, Alexa’s cousin. Alexa is like Apple’s Siri. Siri, Apple’s voice-controlled virtual assistant was born with the iPhone 4S. She can be found on all Apple devices – phones, televisions, iPads, laptops, and desktop computers. All the other tech players quickly followed with their own voice-controlled virtual assistants. Microsoft has Cortana, Amazon has Alexa, and Google has Google Assistant.
Essentially, all these systems function the same. A voice request is made by the user and the virtual assistant fulfills the request by providing the requested information. The assistant is accessed through a device. For Apple it can be the iPhone; for Alexa it is the Amazon Echo or Dot. Information provided can be playing music, reading a book, controlling the smart home features of your house, or reading a recipe. The information provided by these virtual assistants is endless. Top news, the days weather report, and setting reminders, alarms, and timers are some additional features.
It turns out that Alexa has a cousin, Aiva. Aiva works in hospitals or healthcare settings. Aiva is accessed through Amazon’s echo device which is a portable speaker. Aiva is a hospital voice-controlled virtual assistant.
Hospitals and nursing homes, in particular, are severely short staffed. Automating the process of requesting help is an important way to alleviate the demands on hospital personnel. Not only can requests for assistance be routed to the appropriate staff member, but a task is automatically created, can be tracked and monitored to ensure the patient’s news are addressed.
Patients staying at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles can now participate in a pilot program to seek assistance during their hospitalization using Aiva in their rooms. Patients can call for help by using their voice. An Amazon Echo is placed in the patient’s room and can be used to control all the things in it and communicate with the nurse’s station. Goodbye call button. Turning the lights on and off, as well as the television, and changing television channels can all be voice-controlled and performed while lying in bed.
The device can also be used to call the nurse. The beauty of the program is that the request goes to the appropriate person immediately instead of waiting for the nurse or an aide to make the rounds and then order the appropriate care order.
For example, a patient can say, “Alexa, tell my nurse I have to go to the bathroom.” The request is then routed to a caregiver that assists patients using the bathroom. If the request is for pain medication, it is routed to the nurse directly in order for her to administer pain relievers.
The pilot program at Cedars-Mt. Sinai also provides online patient access to his or her health record through an iPad. It’s never pleasant to be hospitalized but with some assistance from a virtual assistant, a stay can be better.