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Investigating the future of virtual health assistants: Alexa we Care, the skill for the elderly.

Runroom I+D

The world’s population is aging, and for the first time in history, in 2045 the population of people over 65 will be the largest age group in the world. In Spain alone there will be 12.5 million elderly people in 2033. 

These statistics (sourced from the National Institute of Statistics- INE ) make one thing clear: we need tools that allow us to assist and take care of our family members who are elderly or need special assistance. Given this reality, we have thought about how to apply our knowledge of voice assistants to gerontechnology. 

How can we use technology to improve quality of life for the elderly and their caretakers?

With this question in mind, we began to research the needs of senior citizens and people with special needs to understand their real needs and find areas in their experience that were in need of improvement.

There is a clear trend around the world of designing and implementing technological solutions oriented towards helping senior citizens, either through health care or improving quality of life to allow them to have a full, independent life, and the field of voice assistants is in its early stages.

We know that:

  • 90% of adults want to remain in their homes, even in cases when they require daily or continuous assistance. 
  • 50% of the searches in 2021 will be done by voice 
  • 99% accuracy has been achieved with voice

We can see an opportunity here!

Our research process is based on a few key principles: 

  1. People first: We put people first, with a customer-centric focus in order to do an in-depth analysis of the real, specific needs and frustrations of each user. 
  2. Real data: We’re working with real people to reflect their patterns of use, which we map on user journeys with specific touchpoints for each archetype. The global analysis of the journey allows us to detect opportunities for improvement in the Customer Experience and to explore new uses.  
  3. Test and Iteration: Based on this information, we conceive, design, test, and iterate solutions to improve this experience.
  4. Hollistic vision: Having a multidisciplinary team made up of consultants, developers, designers, and marketers allows us to address all touchpoints of the experience, obtaining more complex and complete maps.
  5. Agility: Being capable of innovating at an early stage of the journey and responding to context changes or behavior analyses quickly and efficiently, thanks to iterative methodology based on continuous improvement, and on early delivery and frequent value.

Who is it targeted towards?

In the user research phase, we have identified 4 main archetypes: 

  • The elderly. Young seniors, seniors, and advanced seniors between 65 and 85 who interact regularly with a smartphone
  • People with special needs.  People recovering from a difficult operation, living with a chronic condition, or other special needs that require specific care. 
  • Caretakers. Individuals, paid or unpaid, who are in the patient’s space to help with chores or daily life.
  • Health center professionals: Healthcare workers, social workers, health technicians, etc. 

Through actual interviews we have developed an in-depth persona for each archetype.
 

We conceptualize and prototype Alexa “We Care,” a tool that helps the elderly population live more independently. 

Alexa “We Care is an Amazon Alexa Skill designed for elderly people or people with special needs who spend a lot of time home alone, with the aim of offering a more “independent” life by solving a major problem people who need health care and emergency care from their families and caretakers have. 

The objective of the Skill is to guarantee users’ peace of mind, safety and independence in their homes, especially for those who live or spend long periods of time alone. 

It’s the perfect solution for both elderly people and their families, knowing that they are connected to emergency assistance should the need arise.

It also supports the patient during daily routines with reminders about medications, doctor’s appointments, and other advice related to physical and mental welbeing such as, “Is the door shut properly?” or creating memory games.

Alexa We Care is a solution which private consumers can install through their smartphones and which hospitals can offer free of charge or through a subscription, to empower patients on matters of health and to improve the communication between patients and healthcare workers.

The Skill invites users to interact daily through questions and reminders, and learns through conversations with users and the information users give about themselves, their preferences and their history. 

Alexa We Care Skill was selected as a finalist in the Europe Alexa Cup 2019.

This achievement makes us happy and encourages us to continue researching how to adapt technology to the concrete needs of current society, to find solutions with a direct impact on the customer Experience.

*Alert: Technology and technological advances in the health sector are key for prevention and the care of our loved ones, but nothing beats the power of a hug.

¡Transformemos juntos la experiencia de tus clientes!

Transformar la experiencia de paciente requiere 
un equipo comprometido y un enfoque patient-centric.

¡Cuéntanos tu proyecto y empecemos juntos!

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