Amazon has two new programs that integrate Alexa into hospitals and senior living communities, the company announced today. They’re run through Alexa Smart Properties, which allows organizations to control a centralized Alexa system.
“Early on in the pandemic, hospitals and senior living communities reached out to us and asked us to help them set up Alexa and voice in their communities,” Liron Torres, global leader for Alexa Smart Properties, said in an interview with The Verge. Hospitals wanted ways to interact with patients without using protective equipment, and senior living communities wanted to connect residents with family members and staff, she says.
The program lets senior living facilities use Amazon Echo devices to send announcements or other messages to residents’ rooms. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many facilities relied on printed out sheets of paper slipped under resident doors to communicate changes in protocols, like around meals or quarantines. The Alexa program lets them send messages instantly into patient rooms. “Staff can be more available for other tasks,” Torres says.
Residents can also place calls through Alexa to family members or friends without having to rely on a staff member. Approved contacts would also be able to call in through Alexa. The facility could enable calling for a set of contacts approved by the resident and family members when they arrive.
Two networks of senior living communities, Atria (which is nationwide) and Eskaton (based in California), are adding Alexa to some facilities, Amazon said. Amazon declined to say how much the program costs those facilities.
In hospitals, the Alexa Smart Properties program lets nurses communicate with patients through the calling and intercom-esque drop-in features without having to enter patient rooms. Patients could ask questions, or nurses could check on how someone is feeling through the feature. “This enables hospitals to increase productivity and be able to save on medical supplies,” Torres says. Hospitals can also send information and announcements to patients through Alexa.
Patients can toggle on “do not disturb” to prevent drop-ins, Torres says.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, BayCare Health System in Florida, and Houston Methodist are adding Alexa to their facilities, Amazon said.