The Los Angeles Hospital will add Amazon Echoes to 100 rooms as part of a pilot program


Cedars-Sinai patient. You can see Amazon Echo mounted on the wall behind him.
Photo: Cedars-Sinai

While it's hard not to look up when voice assistants are added to every element of the smart home, a Los Angeles hospital actually operates Amazon Alexa. Approximately 100 patient rooms at Cedars-Sinai will now be equipped with Amazon Echos to help patients and caregivers interact more effectively.

The pilot program uses an Alexa-based platform called Aiva. Now, patients can easily say things like "Alexa, change channels" or "Alexa, tell my nurse that I have to use the restroom". Some requests, like turning on or off a television, can be handled by Alexa. The others will be sent directly to the mobile phone of the caregiver. And, probably, the most useful feature for health care providers is that the Aiva platform will be able to send requests to the appropriate type of caregiver. Thus, while a nurse would receive requests for painkillers, a clinical partner would receive toilet requests. According to Cedars-Sinai, requests that take a long time to complete would then be disrupted by the chain of command.

In addition to medical features, patients also have access to all of Alexa's typical features such as weather, music and sports scores. And even if everything is fine at home, these functions would be much more useful in hospitals. Hospitals can be a miserable place for many patients, especially if their mobility is compromised. So, let's say that you are a lonely patient who is trying to waste a little time, you could certainly spend the time watching for your illness by saying something like, "Alexa, I am in agony. Play 'Despacito' followed by 'Suga Suga' from Baby Bash. "

But, which is quite serious, it is one of the cases where the vocal assistants can solve a problem, as opposed to making the modern life in the first world more practical. In general, it is a win-win situation in which patients have company and a hands-free way to contact the caregivers, while hospital staff can avoid misdirected requests. "While nurses were frequently asked to help with television in the bedroom, Alexa does this work for us, allowing them to focus on providing high-level patient care," said Golda Morales, assistant chief nurse at Cedars-Sinai at a statement.

While this may raise concerns that automation steals jobs from qualified health professionals, I would argue that this is really the opposite. he Is play in the discourse of automation on efficiency, but you're essentially helping overworked nurses in already understaffed hospitals. If you are a trained nurse, the last thing you need to do is change your TV channel when a patient else may need painkillers. In addition, Alexa will absolutely not be able to take your blood samples, even if you ask nicely.

Another concern regarding the entire configuration of the voice assistant is confidentiality. The Aiva Privacy Policy page states that it collects voice requests made by patients or caregivers using voice assistants. This may include sensitive health information if it is included in the application itself. It also collects information about the caregiver's role and responsibilities, such as name, schedule and contact information. All of this makes sense for the service to work, but what is worrying is the lack of detail on how this information is anonymized. Aiva says she "unidentifies" the information collected and does not use names or patient identification numbers. It also states that it encrypts data "in transit and in storage", but that Aiva can "keep unidentified information indefinitely".

Nevertheless, even with measures such as encryption in place, there is little information on the security level of system security. Human errors sometimes play a major role in data leaks, and health data requires a higher degree of privacy than your incredible music listening story. After all, a recent Amazon user in Germany accidentally had access to over a thousand audio recordings from a stranger.

Cedars-Sinai is not the only hospital to experiment with voice assistants. Boston Children's Hospital also uses voice assistants to dictate clinical notes and offers step-by-step procedures for cleaning catheters, collecting specimens, or providing hands-free checklists to physicians in real time.

[Cedars-Sinai via Engadget]
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