Houston Methodist, Amazon piloting voice assistants in operating, exam rooms

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Houston Methodist and Amazon Web Services are collaborating to bring voice assistants into hospital settings, according to a Sept. 13 Financial Times report.

Seven things to know:

  1. The collaboration has been in the pilot phase over the past year. It is focusing on bringing voice technology to the hospital system in two areas: the operating room and exam room, a spokesperson from Houston Methodist told Becker's.

  2. In an operating room, the user can command the virtual assistant to run through steps, such as administering anesthesia. The surgeon can then confirm to the voice assistant that they have completed each action on the checklist.

  3. "It's using my voice to complete those activities, so there's never a step that's missed," Dr. Nicholas Desai, chief medical information officer at Houston Methodist, told Financial Times. "Once it's completed, [the voice assistant] writes it back to the electronic medical record as a completed activity, so if there's ever an issue or something doesn't get done, there's going to be a notification."

  4. With the patient's consent, the Amazon devices can also listen in the exam room for details that can be added into the EHR. It analyzes the data to help formulate treatment options for the physician.

  5. For Dr. Desai, the assistant is like a second pair of ears that allows him to spend more time working with patients, instead of entering EHR notes. "My digital voice assistant is listening, partnering with me in the room, managing the care of that patient," he said.

  6. Mr. Desai told the publication how he envisions Amazon's role in healthcare: "I've got a medication delivery service, I've got Prime that can deliver the medications to you immediately. I've got voice-driven activities with Alexa that can make your appointments, I can have you see your doctor visually, verbally and digitally."

  7. The spokesperson for Houston Methodist told Becker's that clinical voice technology has been a priority for the system and "will continue to be as they learn and grow these pilots."

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