Cedars-Sinai is making some of its hospital rooms a little more like home for patients with the help of Amazon Alexa.
The Los Angeles hospital on Monday said it's piloting a system called Avia, which it calls "the world's first patient-centered voice assistant platform for hospitals." As part of the pilot, Cedars-Sinai has equipped more than 100 rooms with Amazon Echo smart speakers so patients can use Alexa to control the TV or summon a nurse with just the sound of their voice.
Patients in these "smart hospital rooms" can say things like "Alexa, change the channel to ESPN" when they want to watch sports on TV or "Alexa, tell my nurse I need to use the restroom" when they need assistance getting out of bed.
Healthcare requests are sent to the appropriate person's mobile phone—whether that be a caregiver, nurse, clinical partner, manager, or administrator. If the patient asks for pain medicine, for example, a nurse is alerted. If they need help getting up to use the restroom, the request is sent a clinical partner. If the request isn't answered right away, the Avia platform sends it to the next person in the chain of command.
"Patients young and old are now used to voice-activated devices in their homes," Cedars-Sinai Executive Director of Medical and Surgical Services Peachy Hain said in a statement. "Since it's familiar to them, it helps enhance their hospital experience."
Cedars-Sinai said patients are most commonly using the virtual assistant to play music, find out about the weather and sports, and play games. One patient said the virtual assistant helped distract her after abdominal surgery.
"I was lonely in the hospital and I said, 'Alexa, would you be my friend?' The device responded, 'Of course we could be friends. You seem very nice,'" patient Adrienne Edwards said in a statement.