“Alexa…What’s the weather today?”
“Alexa…Set a timer for 20 minutes.”
These phrases should sound pretty familiar to you.
As we all saw this past holiday season, smart speakers large and small were all the rage. Personal assistant products like the Amazon Echo and Google Home were flying off the shelves. In fact, Amazon reported that the product they sold most was the Echo Dot. And it doesn’t end there, apparently Amazon also sold “tens of millions” of Alexa-supported devices from other brands. Even Alexa herself was front and center as the star of Amazon’s $15MM ad during this year’s Super Bowl.
It’s pretty safe to say that the era of voice-control, virtual-assistant, home-automation, is upon us and consumers have embraced it in a major way.
How did all this become so mainstream? I believe the motivation behind it ultimately points to our desire for control. Whether we’re all just time-starved or control freaks (or both), we’re gravitating towards tech that can bring us real-time information along with the ability to control different functions from one place. With devices like the Google Home or Apple HomePod, this is now possible. It’s being able to switch on lights, stream songs, set reminders, order food, call an Uber, just by your voice. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like this desire didn’t exist before, but it’s clear that we’ve finally arrived at an intersection where the technology is now accessible, affordable, and approachable, making it possible to meet this need.
Recently Amazon released some interesting stats, where it points out the most popular Alexa command is setting the timer. The second most used is to play a song. It’s remarkable because these tasks seem pretty mundane and fairly straightforward, yet I understand how it can be tedious if you repeat that multiple times a day.
As a clinician, what tedious tasks do you do multiple times a day? Or asked another way, if you can imagine an Alexa for clinicians, what would that look like? What daily toil can it alleviate for you?
While we’re not introducing some new voice control gadget for healthcare, but in the same spirit as the consumer world we believe the idea of centralizing control in a clinical environment can help significantly improve your day-to-day — achieving greater efficiency and reducing pain points.
The product team has been looking at the landscape of traditional centers of information (EHR, on-call schedules, nurse call systems, etc.) and mapping out ways to centralize these streams of data in meaningful ways. We set out on this path to do more than simply surface clinical information for reference. Rather, our sights are set on providing a deeper layer of value by using this information to help you expedite workflow and initiate care coordination. Our intent is to design capabilities that can drive meaningful outcomes in areas like reducing ED wait times or improving bed utilization or discharging patients faster with fewer wasted steps.
After months of discovery, learning, and building, we were chomping at the bit to show off our ideas at HIMSS18. We were ecstatic with the feedback we received. Solutions resonated incredibly well and generated a ton of interest. We used real-world clinical scenarios to illustrate how we can capture ADT data streams from your EHR and have it automatically assemble a care team for patient-centric conversations, which can carry on until patient discharge. We demonstrated how nurse calls and patient monitoring can be greatly improved with real-time alerts and instant response from our mobile app. We had fun showing off VoIP calling, with voice and video, which can also integrate with your PBX system. And for those large health systems that manage complex shift schedules, many were excited to experience our dynamic scheduling integration, which is designed to work seamlessly with our shift-based persona management capability, allowing for automatic shift changes and access to various calendar views.
Much like the technology that has made consumer hits like Alexa and the Echo possible, we believe that a similar intersection of modern technology meeting the desire for centralized control is taking shape in our industry. And we aim to lead the way for clinical communications.
Through these capabilities and others on the way, we see a bright future ahead where a truly connected clinician can accelerate towards making meaningful gains on reducing daily toil, minimizing medical errors, and improving patient care.