By Kate McDonald, PULSE+IT


Burwood Hospital in Christchurch is trialing a voice-activated patient response tool developed by Deloitte to allow patients to request help by speaking into a smart speaker-like device.

First developed for Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney to improve traditional nurse call buttons, DeloitteASSIST is being trialed at one of Burwood’s older persons’ ward and will also be rolled out to its spinal unit and the transitional rehab unit, where patients require more assistance due to mobility issues. They will still have access to the existing nurse call system.

DeloitteASSIST works by processing the patient’s voice command, automatically prioritising requests and sending the information to a tablet docked at the nurses’ station.

Deloitte describes it as an AI-enabled patient communication solution that allows patients to request assistance without the need to press a button. Simply by speaking their request, nurses are alerted, with AI prioritising and smart-routing requests to the right person.

DeloitteASSIST also provides an immediate response to patients confirming they have been heard and that a nurse is on their way. It is also said to benefit nurses as they are not called away for unnecessary tasks.

It can also connect patients with entertainment services and smart controls of the patient environment such as lights, blinds and the TV. Canterbury DHB said the system understands multiple accents and has some other functions like setting alarms for patients to remind them when to take their medication.

Burwood Hospital general manager Dan Coward said the technology would help patients get the support they need sooner.

“As the system recognises some specific set commands, nurses responding to a patient’s request will have a better idea of what the patient needs and come prepared, rather than responding to a call bell, then going off to get whatever may be required,” Mr Coward said in a statement.

“Saving patients’ and staff time is an important way of enhancing the experience of our inpatients. At Burwood many of our patients are with us for months as they recover from serious injuries. I think they will enjoy the ability to request information, music and other entertainment from DeloitteASSIST by using simple voice commands.”

Deloitte New Zealand partner Matt Dalton is running the project in New Zealand and said the system was a great example of technology improving workflow.

“In New Zealand, and Canterbury in particular, we are seeing increased pressure on hospitals and healthcare professionals,” Mr Dalton said.

“DeloitteASSIST looks to change patient to nurse communication using advanced technologies including natural language processing and machine learning, which is the ability of a computer to understand and analyse language and improve its knowledge over time.

“Our aim is to improve the patient experience and make work easier for the nurses and healthcare assistants who look after them.”

DeloitteASSIST was developed by Deloitte partner Robert Spittle, whose father had a fall while in hospital care.



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