Carolinas HealthCare becomes latest health system to tap into Amazon's Alexa

Patients can use the voice assistant to locate nearest care center.
By Bernie Monegain
01:59 PM
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Carolinas HealthCare System patients can now use Amazon’s electronic personal assistant Alexa to locate the nearest urgent care and emergency department. Using Alexa, they can also get current wait times.

“Carolinas HealthCare System is always looking to make it easier for patients to get care,” Craig Richardville, SVP and chief information and analytics officer for the health system, said in a statement.

“We know the last thing a patient needs during an urgent medical need is to have to figure out where to go,” he added. “Using Alexa is quick and convenient.”

[Also: Carolinas HealthCare, UNC Health Care reveal intent to merge]

Carolinas HealthCare is not alone to recognize the power of Alexa. Last year, for example, Boston Children’s Hospital tapped the Alexa app, which it calls KidsMD, to respond to parents’ questions about their children’s conditions.

Parents can ask Alexa whether symptoms such as fever, cough, headache, rash, vomiting, sore throat, diarrhea, fatigue or shortness of breath warrant a call to the doctor.

Richardville noted Alexa is one of many technological advances Carolinas is making to help patients access and manage their care. Using Alexa, Richardville said, patients can easily ask for the nearest hospital or urgent care, saving precious time.”

[Also: Carolinas chases dream of becoming healthcare's 'Amazon Prime']

Once the patient enables the Carolinas HealthCare System skill on Alexa, they just need to say, “Alexa, use Carolinas HealthCare to find the closest urgent care or hospital.” Alexa responds with the closest Carolinas HealthCare System location and estimated wait time. Patients can then reserve their spot at one of the health system’s 28 urgent care locations, via the Carolinas app on their tablet or smartphone. Or, patients can log on to CarolinasHealthCare.org/UrgentCare.

When Healthcare IT News interviewed Richardville earlier this year, he said his ultimate strategy as CIO was for Carolinas Healthcare “to become the de facto standard of care and experience– to make the health system into one which patients ask, “Why would you go anywhere else?”

Over the last several years, Carolinas HealthCare System has provided new, easier ways to access care, from live video visits, to eVisits answered within hours, online scheduling for doctors’ and urgent care visits and MyCarolinas portal, which provides patients with their doctors’ notes and lab and test results.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
Email the writer: bernie.monegain@himssmedia.com