Google Home, Amazon Echo are hidden players in the operating room

Smart speakers, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, can give an extra hand to physicians by answering questions and retrieving information, according to a study presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 2019 annual meeting.  

Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco developed a tool for the Google Home smart speaker that processes questions from interventional radiologists and recommends the appropriate medical device size, Science Daily reported.

"There are hundreds of devices, with more being introduced every day, making it difficult to determine the correct sizing or materials needed in every circumstance. This technology allows physicians to concentrate more closely on the care of their patients, devoting less time and mental energy to device technicalities," said Kevin Seals, MD, lead author of the study.  

The researchers reviewed 475 interventional radiology devices, such as catheters, sheaths and stents, to develop the tool. There are plans to continue developing the technology to include information on material costs and inventory databases.

"During treatment, [interventional radiologists] rely on nuanced medical information delivered in a timely manner. When you're in the middle of a procedure, you need to remain sterile, so you lose the ability to use a computer. This smart speaker technology helps us to quickly and intelligently make decisions relevant to a patient's specific needs," Dr. Seals said at the conference.

The study was published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology.

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