Confidentiality, Privacy and Security

Alexa/Virtual Assistants in Hospital/Clinic/Nursing Home

  • 1.  Alexa/Virtual Assistants in Hospital/Clinic/Nursing Home

    Posted 07-12-2019 09:33
    Hi, Everyone.  In our organization we have had two requests by staff members to have Alexa available in clinical areas - one in a waiting room (clinic) and one in a multipurpose room (nursing home).  I did a lot of research and there are some cool trials going on in healthcare facilities using virtual assistants.  However, based on my research, I am not sure virtual assistants are ready for "prime-time" in patient care areas in clinics or hospitals.

    Next that took me to Nursing Homes.  We have a 30-bed nursing home attached to the hospital.   There of course are shared areas, but each resident had his or her own room.   Nursing homes operate under different regulations but are still HIPAA covered entities.  With that sad, the resident's room is their "home," and I believe that the can control their homes and what devices they have in their homes.  We have residents with cell phones, computers, tablets, etc.  However, no one has asked for a virtual assistant yet - but I anticipate that is coming.

    When doing the research, I was struck by how many advantages a virtual assistant can bring to an elderly individual.  I do not think we would want to be a barrier to our residents have this tool available in their individual rooms.

    Anyone else have any thoughts or want to discuss further?   Thank you.

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    Nancy Davis, MS, RHIA, CHPS
    Director of Compliance & Safety
    Door County Medical Center
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  • 2.  RE: Alexa/Virtual Assistants in Hospital/Clinic/Nursing Home

    Posted 07-12-2019 11:05
    Hi Nancy,

    I was just hearing about Pharma using AI to answer questions about health, so I have to agree this is becoming popular, fast.

    My my understanding of Amazon Alexa and Google Home is that you need to have a personal account tied to this. My main concern would be how to set this up so it can't share PII and is generic.

    If if you're concerned about the listening functionality, there's a lot out there about how this works.

    My take- bolster your Operational Procedures to include the safe use of it. It will be hard to restrict the functionality from a technology perspective, but if you can exhibit control and checks operationally, it can make up for a lack in other areas.

    Alexa (not the Amazon one)

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    Alexandra Richards
    It Project Manager- Clinical Applications
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  • 3.  RE: Alexa/Virtual Assistants in Hospital/Clinic/Nursing Home

    Posted 07-13-2019 07:39
    There has already been a lot of discussion about digital technologies in the Nursing home sector.  We don't advertise that Residents can have Alexa but we allow them if wanted.  You have to check your state regs because Maryland is a two party communication state with regards to recording so we place a sign on the outside of the door frames letting all know that those Residents have an echo device in their room (home).  So far, it has worked well and I feel there is value in these devices.  We also have the POA sign a form that the facility is not responsible for any breakage or if the recording goes viral.

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    Barbara Naimark
    Medical Record Coordinator/Compliance Official
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  • 4.  RE: Alexa/Virtual Assistants in Hospital/Clinic/Nursing Home

    Posted 07-15-2019 09:30
    Barbara, Thank you.  What good advice.  I am going to add the posting of signage to my brief.

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    Nancy Davis, MS, RHIA, CHPS
    Director of Compliance & Safety
    Door County Medical Center
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