University of Wisconsin–Madison

Using smart speakers to help cancer patients before and after surgery

A team of surgical oncology advanced practice providers are testing using smart speakers to help cancer patients before and after surgery. The project, which was supported by a gift from donor Martha Manning, is currently in trial stages.

Complex cancer patients require lengthy perioperative intervention and the patients’ escalating distress interferes with their ability to cope effectively with cancer symptoms and increases across the care continuum. Poor sleep, nutrition and exercise intolerance, and worry increase distress. The premise of this patient improvement idea is to empower patients and caregivers with a hands free device to access opportunities for diversion, interactions, communication, reminders and non-pharmaceutical interventions to address pain, to promote sleep, hygiene, nutrition and exercise, and to reinforce compliance and teachings to better protect the patient’s emotional vulnerability and improve distress.

This unique device-patient pairing allows patients, their caregivers and families to experience a more goal directed and positive approach to a cancer diagnosis; therefore, reducing cancer related distress and improving the patient’s overall quality of life.

“We’re deeply grateful to our generous donors for helping meet immediate needs of our patients with cancer,” team member Mary Beth Henry, RN, MS, CS, APNP, said.

The team, which also includes Krystal Dauterman, BSN, and Kim Ingwell-Huie, BSN, presented their quality improvement project “Using Amazon Echo Dots to Reduce Distress” at the Americas Hepato-Billiary Association Annual meeting in March.