Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) has taken another step toward taking over the aging-in-place space. Earlier this week, the online retail and technology giant announced it is rolling out a new health care feature through its Alexa device aimed at helping informal caregivers monitor seniors inside the home.
The new feature — dubbed “Care Hub” — allows Alexa voice assistant users to link their account to the account of the senior they are taking care of. Once the caregiver accepts the invitation to link accounts, they can then view information on daily activity and receive alerts.
“Once that connection is established, the care recipient doesn’t need to do anything and can go about their day as normal,” Toni Reid, vice president of Alexa Experiences and Echo Devices at Amazon, told CNBC.
In a blog post, Amazon noted that users have praised “the simplicity of the voice service.”
In addition to supporting general connectivity, Care Hub also allows seniors to reach their caregivers by saying a command — “Alexa, call for help” — when emergency situations occur. In these instances, the caregiver will receive an immediate push notification, allowing them to respond to avoid a potential hospitalization.
While Care Hub is marketed towards informal caregivers — spouses, family, friends or neighbors supporting a senior — the offering could eventually make a difference in the professional home care world. Many home care companies have experimented with in-home monitoring through Alexa or similar voice-enabled devices, though actually leveraging those tools on a day-to-day basis is still relatively uncommon.
One example is Wilmington, Delaware-based ChristianaCare, which recently unveiled its “Home Care Coach,’ a HIPAA-eligible Alexa tool that was designed specifically for the company.
“Voice assistants are in millions of homes in the U.S.,” Randy Gaboriault, chief digital and information officer at ChristianaCare, told Delaware Business Now. “By leveraging this technology, we are creating a new model of care within patients’ homes to support the best health outcomes possible.”
ChristianaCare provides skilled nursing, rehab, after-hospital care and other services to more than 8,000 patients in Delaware.
It’s easy to see Care Hub quickly building momentum and attracting new users, considering both the nation’s aging population and Amazon’s position in the smart-speaker market. According to some estimates, nearly 70% of U.S. smart-speaker owners use an Amazon device, with rivals like Google and Apple lagging behind.
Care Hub isn’t Amazon’s first foray into the home. In September, the company announced plans to expand Amazon Care, a virtual care clinic that allows its employees to gain access to in-home care and telehealth services.
The company has also dipped its toes in the senior care space, with talks of a possible partnership with AARP back in 2018. The nature of a partnership was centered around designing technology for aging populations.