Enhancing cancer care with Alexa Smart Properties at Moffitt Cancer Center

Sanjeev Sridharan May 09, 2024
Alexa Skills


Moffitt Cancer Center, a renowned institution dedicated to cancer treatment and research, has leveraged Alexa-enabled devices to create a more supportive and efficient environment for both patients and healthcare providers. The article below showcases how technology can transform the patient experience and streamline healthcare operations.

Alexa Smart Properties for Healthcare offers a customizable and secure Alexa experience specifically designed for healthcare facilities. This technology enables hospitals and care centers to provide HIPAA-compliant voice interactions through Alexa-enabled devices, enhancing patient engagement, operational efficiency, and overall satisfaction. By leveraging the familiar and intuitive interface of Alexa, healthcare providers can offer patients a seamless and comforting experience, promoting better outcomes and higher levels of satisfaction.

The importance of Quality of Life (QoL)

Moffitt Cancer Center, based in Tampa, Florida, stands at the forefront of cancer treatment and research. As Florida’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Moffitt’s mission is to prevent and cure cancer while maintaining a strong focus on patient QoL. The center’s dedication to this mission is reflected in its impressive cancer survival rates, which are up to four times higher than the national average. This success is attributed to Moffitt’s holistic approach to cancer treatment, which prioritizes not only the eradication of the disease but also the overall well-being and QoL of its patients.

QoL is a critical aspect of cancer treatment, as it encompasses the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of patients. Moffitt’s comprehensive care model ensures that patients receive the support they need to manage the side effects of treatment, cope with the emotional challenges of a cancer diagnosis, and maintain a sense of normalcy during their hospital stay. The integration of Alexa-enabled devices at Moffitt’s newest smart hospital on the McKinley Campus exemplifies this commitment to enhancing patient QoL. The hospital’s innovative design includes 128 rooms equipped with Amazon Echo devices, bedside tablets, digital door signs, and digital whiteboards, all aimed at providing real-time updates and a more personalized patient experience.

Marc Perkins-Carrillo, Chief Nursing Informatics Officer at Moffitt, first encountered Alexa while using an Amazon Echo device at his home. Recognizing the potential of this smart assistant to enhance daily life, Marc saw an opportunity to bring similar benefits to the hospital environment. With more than one billion Alexa-enabled devices connected globally and tens of millions of interactions occurring every hour, Marc understood that many patients would already be familiar with Alexa and could benefit from its integration into their hospital experience.

To achieve this, his team partnered with Aiva Health, a technology company specializing in the deployment and interoperability of Alexa-enabled smart speakers in healthcare settings. Together, they worked to integrate Alexa with other Moffitt technologies, ensuring a seamless and secure experience for patients.

Aiva was one of the earliest companies to recognize the potential of Alexa in improving patient experience, and it worked with the Moffitt team to design and implement use cases that were customized to the requirements of its patients. Moffitt decided to deploy Amazon Echo Dot devices in all rooms so that patients would experience the same capabilities regardless of their unit. Aiva helped deploy and test the devices at scale and helped train Moffitt staff use this solution. 

Improving QoL with Alexa

Moffitt and Aiva worked backward from the needs of the patients to determine the right experiences to offer when the hospital opened. One of the primary goals of the Alexa integration was to offer patients a sense of familiarity, allowing them to interact with the devices in the same way they would at home. This familiarity helps patients feel more at ease and connected to their normal routines, even while undergoing treatment in the hospital. Patients can use Alexa to listen to relaxing music, get news updates, ask about the weather, set reminders, and more. These simple yet impactful interactions contribute to a more positive and supportive hospital experience.

Moffitt's focus on comfort and convenience is evident in the custom experiences created for patients. For instance, frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the hospital, such as the location of the cafeteria or the Wi-Fi password, can be easily accessed through Alexa. Additionally, patients can use voice commands to control the TV, eliminating the need to search for a remote control. This feature has been particularly well-received, as it allows patients to change channels, mute the TV, and watch educational videos related to their disease with ease. "Our patients really like the ability to play music in their rooms which we don’t have at our other facilities. It creates a relaxing environment for the patients,” said Tim Demid, a Clinical Informatics Nurse at Moffitt.

The use of Alexa also supports Moffitt's holistic approach to cancer treatment, which emphasizes the importance of addressing patients' emotional and psychological needs. By offering music therapy and laughter therapy through Alexa, patients can use their most natural medium—their voice—to seek out relaxing music and jokes, enhancing their overall experience. This holistic approach not only improves patient satisfaction but also contributes to better clinical outcomes by reducing stress and promoting a positive mindset.

Safeguarding patient privacy

Ensuring patient privacy is a top priority at Moffitt Cancer Center. The Alexa-enabled devices deployed at Moffitt are mapped to hospital rooms rather than individual patients, ensuring that no personal information is required. This approach helps protect patient privacy while still allowing them to benefit from the enhanced experience provided by Alexa.

Voice commands given to Alexa are streamed in an encrypted manner to the cloud only when the wake word "Alexa" is invoked. This ensures that patient interactions with Alexa are secure and confidential. Importantly, voice recordings are never stored, and no human reviews the conversations between patients and Alexa, further safeguarding patient privacy. Patients also have the option to disable the device if they do not wish to interact with it, providing an additional layer of control over their personal information.

Helping nurses focus on patient care

The integration of Alexa-enabled devices at Moffitt Cancer Center has not only improved the patient experience but also significantly eased the workload of nursing staff. Simple functionalities, such as muting the TV using voice commands, have streamlined nurse-patient interactions. "Nurses don’t feel like they are invading a patient’s space as they don’t have to start rifling through covers and bedsheets trying to find the TV remote," said Lisa Baak, Clinical Informatics Supervisor at Moffitt.

Patients can seek hospital-specific information by using their voice, reducing the need to call a nurse for answers to common questions. Nurses themselves use Alexa in the rooms to switch off or mute the TV, especially when they are sterilized and wearing gloves to begin a procedure. While performing procedures, they can ask Alexa to play relaxing music to calm anxious patients. Nurses also use Alexa to seek information, such as determining the generic name of a medication, or even to entertain themselves with music or simple math problems when they are performing tasks in the rooms, such as emptying drains.

"I think the hands-free ability is really the differentiator," said Baak. This hands-free interaction allows nurses to focus more on patient care rather than searching for physical controls or answering routine questions.

The path forward with Alexa

Patient adoption has been healthy with 85% engagement rate with Alexa-enabled devices. With strong endorsements from both patients and healthcare providers, Moffitt Cancer Center is already planning to expand the range of Alexa experiences available at its facilities. The next steps include implementing smart automation features that will allow patients to control their room environment, such as adjusting the thermostat, lowering the blinds, and switching lights on or off, all through voice commands. These enhancements will further promote patient independence and comfort.

Another exciting prospect is the integration of Alexa with the Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. This integration will improve efficiency by enabling healthcare providers to access patient information and documentation through voice commands, streamlining workflows and reducing administrative burdens. Additionally, enabling inbound and outbound calling using Alexa will make it easier for patients to stay in touch with their care teams, enhancing communication and coordination of care.

Moffitt also plans to deploy Alexa-enabled devices in other hospitals within its network, starting with the Magnolia campus. This expansion will ensure that more patients can benefit from the enhanced experience provided by Alexa, further solidifying Moffitt's position as a leader in innovative cancer care. 

"Nursing workflow is really ripe for a technological revolution. We believe we have only scratched the surface in terms of what Alexa can do for our care teams and patients. We constantly seek feedback from them and work with Aiva and the Amazon team to offer even more capabilities," said Marc Perkins-Carrillo.

The integration of Alexa Smart Properties at Moffitt Cancer Center has revolutionized the patient experience, providing a familiar, comforting, and supportive environment for cancer patients. By leveraging the capabilities of Alexa-enabled devices, Moffitt has not only enhanced patient QoL but also streamlined healthcare operations, allowing care teams to focus more on patient care and less on administrative tasks.

Learn more about Alexa Smart Properties for Healthcare by visiting this webpageContact the Alexa Smart Properties team, or reach out to Aiva to learn more about offering voice-enabled Artificial Intelligence (AI) experiences in your healthcare facilities. 

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