Boston Children's Hospital launches cloud-based education on Amazon Alexa-enabled devices

April 12, 2016

Through a new skill created for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices, parents will now be able to ask Alexa a variety of questions around fever and other common symptoms. The 'KidsMD™' Alexa skill was developed by the Innovation & Digital Health Accelerator (IDHA) team at Boston Children's Hospital and launched today.

"My child has a fever of 101. Should I be concerned?" Through a new skill created for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices, parents will now be able to ask Alexa a variety of questions around fever and other common symptoms. The "KidsMD" Alexa skill was developed by the Innovation & Digital Health Accelerator (IDHA) team at Boston Children's Hospital and launched today.

Devices enabled with Alexa, such as Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap and Amazon Fire TV, can help parents decide whether symptoms like fever, cough, headache, rash, vomiting, sore throat, diarrhea, fatigue or shortness of breath warrant a call to the doctor—all by using the convenience of voice. The KidsMD Alexa skill can also offer weight- or age-specific dosing guidelines for over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen, tapping cloud-based content created and curated by Boston Children's physicians.

"We eventually intend to enable Alexa to give broader kinds of health care information via KidsMD, but we're starting with symptoms that are of common concern to parents," says Boston Children's Chief Innovation Officer John Brownstein, PhD, who leads the IDHA team.

When people purchase an Alexa-enabled device through Amazon.com or at select retail stores, it comes with Alexa and a variety of Alexa skills and domains such as playing music and asking about the weather. To access the KidsMD skill, users will first need to enable the skill within the Alexa app. To activate the skill, the user can then say phrases like, "Alexa, ask KidsMD about dosing," or "Ask KidsMD about ," and then proceed with their question.

"The KidsMD skill makes it easier to access medical information from Boston Children's Hospital, a world-class medical institution. That access is important for all of our Alexa customers, and particularly ," says Rob Pulciani, Amazon Alexa Director. "We're thrilled to be working with Boston Children's on such a unique and valuable skill. We now have over 500 Alexa skills, and we're looking forward to adding more important skills like this for our customers."

"Families will increasingly look to perform front-line health care triage with diagnostic mobile apps and devices and decision support applications," says Nitin Gujral, IDHA's software development manager. "Connected home devices like Amazon's Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV and Amazon Tap will begin to be used for intuitive health care delivery."

The KidsMD skill for Alexa is intended to provide general guidance and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

"Our current focus is on providing educational information on common pediatric symptoms and guidance for at-home treatment," says Jared Hawkins, MMSc, PhD, director of informatics for IDHA. "However, in the future we envision Alexa-enabled devices being a central point for the public to verbally interact with all of the educational content developed at Boston Children's Hospital."

"I am thrilled to see our team take the first leap in leveraging an engaging consumer device such as Amazon Echo in health care," says Michael Docktor, MD, clinical director of at IDHA. "As becomes more focused on the user experience, we are excited about the opportunities that Alexa and other technologies can offer our patients."

Explore further: Alexa voice software to offer Fitbit progress updates

Related Stories

Alexa voice software to offer Fitbit progress updates

March 17, 2016
Alexa, what can you tell me about my health?

Amazon, targeting smart homes, adds devices to 'Alexa' family

March 3, 2016
Amazon unveiled two devices Thursday in the family of its "Alexa" voice-activated personal assistant, aiming for a bigger foothold in the smart-home market.

Custom Alexa voice commands enrich Echo's options

November 23, 2015
Amazon Echo is a wireless speaker and voice command device from Amazon. The device wakes up to the name "Alexa" which is Amazon's voice-controlled personal assistant. Alexa is the voice that delivers information and obeys ...

Recommended for you

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

Higher levels of fluoride in pregnant woman linked to lower intelligence in their children

September 20, 2017
Fluoride in the urine of pregnant women shows a correlation with lower measures of intelligence in their children, according to University of Toronto researchers who conducted the first study of its kind and size to examine ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.