Voice assistants are coming to the hospital bedside.

Voice assistants — made popular by Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google Home and others — are simple, intuitive, multi-user and best suited where accessibility and availability are essential.

Leveraging these advantages, at DXC Labs we have built Ally, DXC Technology’s voice-enabled hospital bedside assistant.

Meet Ally

The current patient call bell mechanism is not effective for immediately attending to patient needs. Further, it does not distinguish between the nature of requests. McKinsey has stated that 36 percent of activities performed by registered nurses (RNs) are spent on “below RN license” work that could be performed by a nursing assistant or other non-RN team member. This has implications for call bell requests.

Ally, a prototype, aims to address this issue by differentiating the nature of requests and alerting either the nurse, head nurse or nursing assistant with the exact nature of request. It makes use of the voice-driven escalation framework shown in the diagram below.

 

Voice-driven escalation framework used for Ally.

 

Through Ally, a patient can seek general assistance such as “May I have an extra pillow?” or “Can you prop me up in bed?” These requests don’t require medical assistance so a nursing assistant can be alerted.  The patient gets swift and immediate assistance, and the nurse’s time is optimized.

A patient can also seek medical assistance, for example when a bandage needs changing or medicines need to be administered. Ally would alert a nurse to attend to such medical requests.

A visiting nurse can assess the patient and call for help using Ally if there was an emergency. This would trigger alerts to the respective doctors and head nurse, and sound an alert at the nursing station.

And if the patient is hungry or thirsty, he or she can order food or a drink from the hospital cafeteria through an interactive conversation with Ally.

Optimizing staff, maintaining quality care

Requests to Ally are logged and visualizations are available for analysis. These visualizations can help hospital management optimize the nursing staff based on types and frequency of requests, thereby reducing costs while maintaining quality patient care.

 

Sample visualizations from Ally.

 

With Ally, both sides benefit. Patients receives swift assistance and hospitals can make data-driven staffing decisions that optimize skill levels and enhance job satisfaction.