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Amazon on Monday announced the launch of two new programs which will integrate its voice-based assistant Alexa into hospitals and senior living communities.

The new programs, run through Alexa Smart Properties, will help healthcare workers to interact with patients without using protective equipment, The Verge reported.

“Early on in the pandemic, hospitals and senior living communities reached out to us and asked us to help them set up Alexa and voice in their communities,” Liron Torres, global leader for Alexa Smart Properties, was quoted as saying in an interview.

The program will allow senior living facilities to use Amazon Echo devices to send announcements or other messages to residents’ rooms.

The Alexa program lets them send messages instantly into patient rooms as well as place calls to family members or friends without having to rely on a staff member.

“Staff can be more available for other tasks,” Torres said.

Two networks of senior living communities, Atria (which is nationwide) and Eskaton (based in California), are adding Alexa to some facilities, Amazon said. However, Amazon has declined to say how much the program costs those facilities.

In hospitals, the Alexa Smart Properties program lets nurses communicate with patients through the calling and intercom-esque drop-in features without having to enter patient rooms. Patients could ask questions, or nurses could check on how someone is feeling through the feature, the report said.

“This enables hospitals to increase productivity and be able to save on medical supplies,” Torres said. Hospitals can also send information and announcements to patients through Alexa.

Patients can toggle on “do not disturb” to prevent drop-ins, she said.

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