Voice-assisted tool helps with workflow at Boston Children's Hospital

The use of a virtual assistant at Boston Children's Hospital can help doctors who don't have a free hand to look up medical records, take pictures and more.

The healthcare system uses Amazon's Alexa, a voice-assisted software system, for these efforts. The hospital has created an app, KidsMD, to work with the program that offers care advice to parents of sick children, according to a STAT report.

John Brownstein, Children's chief innovation officer, said during a demonstration of the program at the hospital that they are "thinking about how these technologies come into play in every stage of the patient's journey," according to the article.

One such tool can take photos during a colonoscopy, allowing a surgeon to give Alexa voice commands to take pictures of certain parts of the operation and insert the image into the patient's electronic medical file.

However, as with all new tools, Alexa has its quirks. For instance, STAT reports, during a demonstration, when a physician was done using the tool, it keep asking what else it could help with. In addition, Wi-Fi hotspots could interfere with the system.

The program could also be useful for patients during hospital stays, according to the article; they can ask it to turn off the lights or turn up the heat.

Patient safety is top of mind with the tool, making sure the system doesn't repeat or give out sensitive information to the wrong person, according to the article.

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