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How Alexa Is Changing Healthcare

Voice-activated artificial intelligence is making a significant impact in healthcare.

  • “Alexa, what’s the weather?

    It’s a familiar refrain as consumers across the country embrace Amazon’s voice-activated artificial intelligence (AI) to do everything from play their favorite song to order pizza.

    Now, healthcare joins in the act with voice-activated, Amazon-powered apps that work on the round speaker, Echo, that take a range of requests from diagnosing pediatric symptoms to locating electronic health records (EHRs). Here are just some of the ways, Alexa—and its Apple counterpart, Siri—can help patients and providers.

  • Migraine Buddy

    Migraine Buddy, from Singapore-based Healint, uses sensor technology, analytics and machine learning to track all aspects of these chronic, severe headaches. Able to store patient-reported data in real time, the platform generates a history that patients can share with their physicians to understand and treat the condition.

    “We aim to provide an artificial-intelligence powered navigation system that enables each patient to obtain the best possible treatment at any point in time," explains Francois Cadiou Healint founder and CEO and author of a study that collected data from 1,500 Migraine Buddy users. Accessible via iOS and Android mobile devices and tablets, it includes pure voice control via Amazon’s Alexa.


    Migraine Buddy, a voice-delivered platform from Healint, Singapore, tracks headache pain, symptoms and triggers for more than 1 million registered users. (Photo: Courtesy of Healint, Singapore.)
  • KidsMD

    Boston Children’s Hospital partnered with Amazon last year to launch KidsMD, a voice-enabled app that gives advice to parents about pediatric symptoms ranging from fever and cough to age- and weight-related dosing for over-the-counter medications. KidsMD works on Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap and Amazon Fire TV and represents the first step towards bringing common medical information to consumers says Jared Hawkins, MMSc, PhD, director of informatics for the hospital’s Innovation & Digital Health Accelerator team. “In the future, we envision Alexa-enabled devices being a central point for the public to verbally interact with all educational content developed at Boston Children’s.”

    Basic information about common childhood symptoms and medication can be accessed via the Alexa-powered KidsMD app from Boston Children’s. (Photo: Courtesy of Boston Children’s Hospital in MA).
  • AskMarvee

    “Alexa, ask Marvee what the family news is or what’s for lunch?” These are just some of the questions posed by this community-based, Alexa-enabled app on behalf of older adults or those with vision or mobility issues. Part of a suite of voice-delivered services from Naples, Fla.-based Marvee, LLC, it sends messages, like “I’m o.k.” to family members or requests for social visits.

    AskMarvee integrates with Amazon Echo via an online portal. Basic Marvee Amazon skill is free, Premium and Family versions cost $15 and $20/month respectively.


    AskMarvee uses integrated, voice-activated technology to connect seniors and those challenged by vision or mobility problems. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvee LLC, Naples, FL.)
  • EVA
    Providers, every day, sift through mountains of patient data to find specific stats. Enter EVA, a voice-activated virtual assistant from eClinicalWorks, Westborough, Mass. The cloud-based, voice-driven technology interfaces with eClinicalWorks’ VII EHR system to reduce the time it takes to find information. Like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, Physicians and clinicians say “Hello, EVA,” who responds, “What would you like me to do?”

    Cloud-based, voice-activated EVA from eClinicalWorks, Westbourgh, Mass., calls up patient-specific EHR information quickly. (Photo: Courtesy of eClinicalWorks, Westborough, MA.)
  • Mayo Clinic News Network

    “Alexa open Mayo First-Aid.” That’s all it takes to access voice-driven, self-care instructions for everyday injuries—from cuts and scrapes to fevers and burns—from the Rochester, MN.-based hospital.
    “Creating this first-aid skill can provide relevant information to consumers where and when it’s needed,” says Sandhya Pruthi, M.D., Mayo’s associate medical director, Clinic Global Business Solutions. Mayo First-Aid operates on Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap and should not be used during life-threatening or emergency situations.

    Self-care instructions for common injuries and symptoms can be found at Mayo First-Aid, a voice-activated app that works on the Amazon platform. (Photo: Courtesy of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.)
  • Accenture
    London-based Accenture Liquid Studio developed a voice-activated AI platform to help those over age 70 take control of their health and lifestyle. The cloud-based platform runs on Amazon Web Services and includes a portal to let family and caregivers check in on loved ones and spot changes in behavior.
    Accenture tested the platform from August to October 2017 with a focus group of approximately 60 people age 70 and older and living independently. “We identified the more common challenges of everyday life for older people—from setting daily reminders to the heartache of loneliness—and applied AI to create a human-centered platform to provide support and assistance,” says Laetitia Cailleteau, emerging technology and AI lead, Accenture Liquid Studio.


    Last year, Accenture Liquid Studio, London, developed voice-activated AI to help seniors—those over age 70—manage their health and wellbeing. (Photo: Courtesy of the Accenture, Las Vegas, NV.)
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