discoveries magazine

Innovation 7: A Very Patient Device

A hockey-puck sized assistant aims to smarten up the patient experience.


Illustration: Jan Feindt

Virtual personal assistants perch in our homes, eager to indulge our whims and curiosities: “Alexa, play me a song”; “Siri, should I bring an umbrella?” The tech startup Aiva Healthcare repositions smart speakers to support a critical audience: hospital patients. Cedars-Sinai and Aiva—whose creator is a graduate of the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator Powered by Techstars—are now testing the technology on the hospital floor. Powered by Amazon’s Alexa technology through a small Echo Dot smart speaker, Aiva acts as a responsive resource for both patients and caregivers.

Tech Upgrade

Aiva triages patient requests, interpreting commands like “Aiva, tell my nurse I’m hungry,” or “Aiva, tell my nurse I’m cold.” It also can send alerts to caregivers through a smartphone app. For patients, this improved communication could mean less time waiting for the right person to provide assistance.

Creature Comforts

Homesick patients can draw comfort from a captive, perhaps familiar, listener. In addition to communicating with the nursing team, Aiva can answer frequently asked questions like “When are visiting hours?” or “What time does Starbucks open?” “It’s great for the patient experience and also frees up nursing staff to focus on more complex or sensitive patient needs,” founder Sumeet Bhatia says.