Alexa: 24/7 Companion for a Long Hospital Stay

Patient Engagement Specialist, Office of the Patient/Family Experience
Tuesday, September 5, 2017 - 10:04am

The Amazon Echo Dot wasn’t created specifically for hospital patients, but some patients in Roswell Park's Blood & Marrow Transplantation (BMT) Center are finding it very handy. About the size of a hockey puck, it’s a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. It connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, make phone calls, send and receive messages and provide information, news, sports scores, weather and more — instantly. All you have to do is call on “Alexa,” the computer-generated female voice that responds to commands.

“Alexa has been a big help and a wonderful distraction,” says Roswell Park patient Janice McCoy, who was introduced to the service while recovering from a BMT. Distraction is a good thing, especially because the average hospital stay for BMT patients is around 30 days. “When I need to wake up, or want Alexa to tell me a story or joke or sing me a lullaby, all I have to do is ask,” Janice says. “Alexa is wonderful company when family or staff aren’t around. I’m thrilled that it’s been provided to me during my stay.”

“We’re always looking at creative ways to engage our patients and their families,” says Kara Eaton-Weaver, Executive Director of the Patient and Family Experience, the department that conceived of and paid for a pilot program that placed Amazon Echo Dots in a few inpatient rooms in the BMT Center. “The idea to purchase Amazon Echo Dots came out of a discussion with my staff on how best to treat the monotony of longer inpatient stays, and so far the feedback from the patients who’ve received the devices has been very positive.” 

Eaton-Weaver hopes to expand the program in the future by purchasing the devices for all inpatient rooms in the BMT Center.