Our smart speakers, such as the Google Home and Amazon Echo, reside in our living rooms and help us turn on the lights, change the music, and so much more. Now, smart speakers are making their way into hospital operating rooms to help out physicians, according to research that was presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting.
“During treatment, IRs rely on nuanced medical information delivered in a timely manner. When you’re in the middle of a procedure, you need to remain sterile, so you lose the ability to use a computer,” said Kevin Seals, MD, a fellow in interventional radiology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and lead author of the study. “This smart speaker technology helps us to quickly and intelligently make decisions relevant to a patient’s specific needs.”
Researchers at UCSF have developed a device-sizing application for the Google Home smart speaker that can be used for medical procedures. The application can receive questions from a human voice and will provide recommendations on the precise sizing of medical devices. For instance, if an IR needed to know the sheath size to use to implant a stent in a patient’s blood vessel, the speaker could indicate the correct size based on the circumstances. This in turn can help physicians make more informed decisions throughout the surgery process.
“There are hundreds of devices, with more being introduced every day, making it difficult to determine the correct sizing or materials needed in every circumstance. This technology allows physicians to concentrate more closely on the care of their patients, devoting less time and mental energy to device technicalities,” Seals said.
In order to develop the device, researchers used literature reviews for 475 IR devices, such as catheters, sheaths, stents, vascular plugs, and more. The language process was implemented with Dialogflow, which extracted information that pertained to these topics from an input query.
Ultimately, the researchers want to expand upon this technology, and hope to include information such as material costs and inventory databases. Having this information on hand could help make treatments more cost-effective and efficient. The researchers are also looking into acquiring electronic health records and patient clinical data so the device can offer even more information, such as if the patient has allergies or any prior surgeries.
As technology enables smart homes, it has also mirrored the way of hospitals and operating rooms, providing doctors with more insight than ever before.