“Alexa, tell me a joke”
“Alexa, what’s the weather today?”
Millions of people have already installed Amazon’s popular voice-activated digital assistant, Alexa, in their homes to provide information that makes lives easier. But what if Alexa could be used in a healthcare setting? How could the lives of patients and healthcare staff be impacted? That’s what Camille Roussel and Jason Gottschalk set out to find out when they started their business this past spring called PrimroseIntel at Launch Workplaces in Rockville, MD.
PrimroseIntel provides data enhanced customer engagement for the senior care industry. Both Camille, who is the CEO, and Jason, who is the VP of Product Innovation previously worked as executives with a regional senior care provider and saw that they were run on antiquated systems or ported over from other unrelated industries. “We need to do something about this,” they both said. Influenced by the principles of the lean start-up method, they contacted over 50 senior care Executive Directors across the United States to ascertain what was keeping them up at night. Disjointed customer experiences and staff inefficiencies were mentioned again and again. Customers find it difficult to navigate the myriad of doctor appointments and care providers are bogged down with paperwork and answering call bells with requests that range from needing ice to helping someone who fell out of bed. Indeed, the research data showed that staff was answering the same questions over and over. The partners wanted to develop a solution that would allow systems to take over what they do best, so people can do what they do best.
Enter digital assistance. Using the popular Alexa platform from Amazon, the two developed a solution that allows patients to interact with it first instead of staff. Now patients can ask Alexa things like, “When is my next physical therapy appointment?”, “What’s for dinner tonight?” and “Where can I get my hair cut?”. Patients can also book appointments, request assistance, and interact effortlessly with staff. While other voice-response solutions are available in the healthcare industry, they don’t have the natural dialog that Alexa provides, nor the ability to be a managed device with multiple uses. “We are breaking new ground,” explains Camille, who does the development himself, relying on tools such as TypeScript, Dynamo DB and Amazon Web Services. Potential clients include retirement communities, nursing homes, and short-term rehabilitation centers. PrimroseIntel’s solution is currently undergoing a beta test at a local retirement community where the staff has been quick to accept it already. It should be available for market in early 2019, with pricing based on a software-as-a-service model.
In a way, Camille and Jason have been preparing for PrimroseIntel their whole lives. Camille’s father was an entrepreneur, and his mother worked in senior care. A stint in the military crystalized his values, and he became driven to take charge of his destiny, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and two Master’s degrees from the University of Maryland along the way. Books that influenced him are The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nasim Nicholas Taleb and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Jason took a more circuitous route to business, first earning a Bachelor’s degree in Music followed by a Master’s degree in History and Music, and then a Doctorate in Music. He landed a position as a music director for a retirement community and was later asked to run the whole center! As someone who loves learning and new challenges, Jason has stepped enthusiastically into PrimroseIntel.
When asked what keeps these two up at night, Camille is focused on getting the current product to market, building out a sales team, and developing future products. Luckily, their experience with Launch Workplaces is not adding to their worries. “It has been great to be here,” says Camille. “Our private office allows the two of us to work together comfortably, while the buzz of folks in the kitchen makes us feel like we are part of something larger.”
So the next time someone asks Alexa where cutting-edge solutions for her platform are being developed, the answer will undoubtedly be, “At PrimroseIntel at Launch Workplaces.”