February 21, 2018
Story by Sarah Megran
There’s a new voice at Alberta Health Services (AHS), and her name is Alexa.
Alexa is very knowledgeable with a background of being a personal assistant for clients across the globe. She has extensive experience in providing the most current information, as well as skills to help clients manage their time.
Who is she? She’s Alexa — the voice of Amazon’s artificial intelligence products, known as Echo.
Officially launched Feb. 21, 2018, the AHS Alexa Skill is now available for users of Amazon’s voice-activated smart-home technology — making AHS the first Canadian public health agency to adopt this technology to deliver information to patients and families.
The Alexa Skill — phrases or questions that users can say to Alexa — was developed by the AHS Information Technology Web Presence and Collaboration team in partnership with the Community Engagement and Communications Online and Creative Services team. Real-time estimated emergency department wait times, where available, as well as the latest AHS news are now available through Alexa.
“We’re thrilled to be the first public healthcare organization in Canada to offer this innovative technology,” says Kass Rafih, Executive Director, AHS Online and Creative Services. “As a healthcare organization we want to ensure the public has access to the most current information available to better manage and maintain their health — and Amazon Alexa is a creative new way AHS can achieve this.”
Once the AHS Alexa Skill is installed on your mobile device and connected to your Amazon Echo product, you can say simple phrases such as “Alexa, ask AHS for emergency department wait times.” Alexa will respond with AHS’s real-time wait times at available emergency departments, including the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital, the Chinook Regional Hospital, the Red Deer Regional Hospital, and emergency departments in the Calgary and Edmonton Zones as well as urgent care centres in the Calgary Zone.
Albertans can also say — “Alexa, ask AHS for latest news” — and they’ll immediately hear up-to-date information and news from AHS.
AHS will continue to add new services to the AHS Alexa skill in addition to developing the same service for Google Home products and Apple’s soon-to-be-released HomePod product line.
Amazon’s Alexa provides another channel for Albertans to find the latest information. Patients and public can also access up-to-the-minute wait times at specific emergency departments 24 hours a day, seven days a week by visiting www.ahs.ca/waittimes or through the AHS mobile app.
As always, any patient with a potentially life-threatening condition should immediately phone 911 or go directly to the nearest Emergency Department regardless of estimated wait times.
To learn more, please visit ahs.ca/alexa.