AI Reduces Contact in Hospitals: Ouva Voice Assistant Guides Medical City Heart Hospital and Medical City Spine Hospital Visitors

It’s an early afternoon and Mary is on her way to visit her father who has recently been admitted to the Medical City Heart Hospital. She goes past the pillars walking through the glass door and finds herself in a stunning new building, yet, with no prior sense of direction. A friendly pink sign on an LED screen in front of her reads "Can I help you?" and invites her to talk to this virtual wayfinding system. "Where is the ICU?" Mary asks and proceeds to examine the emerging blue 3D path rendering in front of her eyes. Thrilled that she managed to get the information without touching any potentially contaminated surfaces, Mary is on her way to see her dad.

Ouva patient assistant listening to patient voice on screen.

Medical City Heart Hospital and Medical City Spine in Dallas, a part of the HCA Healthcare network, opened its doors on October 8, 2019. Medical City Heart Hospital, with 63 private patient rooms, treats a full range of complex vascular and heart conditions. Medical City Spine Hospital offers 24 patient rooms and treats scoliosis and the most complex spinal cases and revisions. The new facility is outfitted with innovative technologies such as an intelligent robot that assist nurses, along with enhanced amenities that make the patient experience more comfortable and efficient.

To transform the patient experience in the age of AI, Medical City Healthcare leadership chose the Ouva Voice Assistant solution to provide proactive support to all visitors, improve patient communication, and wayfinding inside the facility. Once the patients are on their way, they have to navigate hallways, with wayfinding spread out across three buildings and multiple parking areas.

Introducing Ouva Voice Assistant

Ouva is a voice-activated guide that can recognize visitors and introduce them to the facility. It is capable of responding to complex, spoken queries and commands and can offer immediate guidance. For example, visitors can ask Ouva "How can I check-in to my appointment?", "Where is Dr. Wilson’s office?" or "Where can I get food?". Additionally, any messaging, such as the hospital’s COVID-19 guidelines, can be displayed on stations to improve patient communication.

Ouva assistant screen in Medical City Dallas hospital.

A Better Wayfinding Experience

Wayfinding is one of the most challenging aspects of facility design. Poor wayfinding most certainly negatively affects patient experience, causing delays in patient flow as well as adverse effects on patients’ wellbeing with added stress, costing hospitals up to $220,000 per year.

Ouva is a unique, patent-pending wayfinding experience that directs patients with memorable, turn by turn directions. A detailed 3D map shows nearby destinations, positioned to the current orientation of the visitor. Prominent landmarks inside the hospital are incorporated onto the route to make them more memorable and help with orientation along the way. Ouva presents directions with visual representations and landmarks as opposed to complex verbal directives typically found in existing digital signage solutions. The digital design builds on the facility’s branding, bringing physical signs into the digital display for a seamless transition.

Ouva assistant showing a route to a person on a touch-free screen

Private Guidance by Design

Each Ouva station carries an optical sensor capable of identifying visitors and remembering their questions. Ouva sends this information to all stations around the facility so that a visitor can walk up to any Ouva screen and get the next set of instructions without having to ask again. To accomplish this is no easy feat - Using AI, Ouva protects the privacy and ensures security, by remembering only the visitor's unique signature for a short duration, enough for visitors to get to their destination. Moreover, all this computation is done within the walls of the facility to avoid interference. 

Touch-free Signage Reduces Infections

The entirely touch-free interface eliminates the risk of infection and simplifies the burden of the cleanup and maintenance of these systems. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the touch displays create high infection risks. Harmful strains of MRSA, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus may linger on devices.

Measuring Impact with Realtime Data

Ouva measures patient flow, time of arrival, and time spent guiding visitors, leading to how much staff time saved by having Ouva in the facility. Since launch, on March 2nd, Ouva has analyzed significant amounts of data related to what visitors typically ask for, revealing information about the frequent destinations and where the hospital can provide better guidance. The facility managers and hospital management have access to all metrics and insights related to patient experience via the Ouva Dashboard.

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