Amazon is moving Alexa into U.S. hospitals and senior care facilities. The company announced that the personal assistant will serve a number of roles, from supporting medical staff to helping patients communicate with family members
While Alexa was originally introduced as a home device, Amazon has modified it in recent years for use in large facilities -- such as hotels, apartment buildings, and vacation rentals. Alexa Smart Properties will enable senior living and health care providers to integrate the digital assistant into their properties and “empower residents and patients to stay connected, informed and entertained,” according to an Amazon press release.
Besides supporting patients and keeping them more connected, Amazon said the service will increase care team productivity and operational efficiency.
“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,” said Liron Torres, head of Alexa Smart Properties, Amazon. “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.”
Tested during the pandemic
The move follows a more than year-long pilot project that tested the concept. It coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, long-term care facilities shut off access to visitors to protect residents from the virus.
Amazon’s pilot program introduced Alexa into these facilities in a bid to reduce residents’ sense of isolation. The pilot project also introduced Alexa into hospitals.
For example, doctors were able to use Alexa’s intercom-like feature to communicate with patients without having to go into their rooms. It not only reduced the risk of transmitting germs, it also allowed medical personnel to cover more ground in a shorter amount of time.
Hospital systems that have already adopted Alexa include Northwell Health, Cedars-Sinai, BayCare, and Houston Methodist. In the weeks ahead, Amazon stated that it will make Echo devices and the Alexa assistant available to hospitals nationwide.
“We’ve consistently moved to put our residents in the position to live their best lives, now,” said John Moore, CEO of Atria Senior Living. “Technology has played a critical role in this effort. When you combine our resident and family app with the deployment of Alexa Smart Properties in our communities, seniors have an even greater ability to write the next chapter of their lives through easy-to-use technology that keeps them engaged and connected to their families at all times.”