Can Siri or Alexa help with CPR?

Aug 29, 2023, 7:30 AM

It's important to know CPR but always call 911 in response to a cardiac arrest, experts said. (Scie...

It's important to know CPR but always call 911 in response to a cardiac arrest, experts said. (Science Photo Library, Getty Images)

(Science Photo Library, Getty Images)

ATLANTA — Voice assistants like Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa can help with things like the weather and recipes, but what about CPR?

Perhaps not so much, a new report showed.

Only 59% of voice assistant responses actually included information related to cardiopulmonary resuscitation, according to a study published Monday. Only about one-third gave actual CPR instructions.

“We found that when we asked questions related to cardiopulmonary resuscitation to artificial intelligence voice assistants, (the answers) really lacked relevance and even came back with inconsistencies,” said lead study author Dr. Adam Landman, chief information officer and senior vice president of digital at Mass General Brigham and an attending emergency physician.

Researchers asked eight questions related to CPR instructions of Amazon Alexa on Echo Show 5, Apple Siri on iPhone, Google Assistant on Nest Mini, and Microsoft Cortana on a Windows 10 laptop, according to the research.

Two board certified emergency medicine physicians used transcripts to assess the accuracy of the responses, the study said.

“This is an important study for us as an organization to help us determine how to better work with VA device manufacturers and as we enter into the world of AI to make sure credible organizations like the AHA are the top answers given by these devices,” said Dr. Comilla Sasson, vice president for science and innovation at the American Heart Association and a practicing emergency medicine physician. Sasson was not involved in the research.

The results show that those witnessing a medical emergency should not rely on voice assistants for medical information, Landman said.

“Bystanders should prioritize calling emergency services 911 if they see a patient that is suspected of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest,” he added.

The CPR information you do need to know

How should you prepare in case someone near you needs resuscitation?

“First and foremost, take 90 seconds, and learn about CPR and how to use an (automated external defibrillator),” Sasson said. “Awareness is the first step in action.”

The American Heart Association offers CPR courses, and there are resources on its website to build a cardiac response plan for schools, workplaces and sports.

It is also important to share the information and make sure others around you are familiar as well, she added.

Every day, about 960 people in the U.S. have a cardiac arrest, so it is important that as many people are educated as possible, Sasson said. “This is important information because the life you save will likely be of someone who you know or love,” she added.

A possible future for tech

A bright side of CPR being so researched and standardized is that there are easy ways for technology to provide assistance, Landman said.

“If we can take that appropriate evidence-based content and work with the tech companies to incorporate it, I think there’s a real opportunity to immediately improve the quality of those instructions,” he said.

One improvement Landman suggests is a standardization of phrases people can use so they know exactly how to get quick CPR information.

Resources like music can also supplement CPR efforts, he added.

“One of the challenges in bystander CPR is ensuring that laypersons keep the appropriate rate of compressions,” Landman said. The beat of “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees is a good guide.

“You could imagine that if you’ve got a smartphone with you, or a voice assistant, the voice assistant and or the smartphone could be playing the music ‘Staying Alive’ at the right time when you need to deliver chest compressions,” he added.

Although there is good opportunity in the future, the first thing bystanders to a cardiac event should do is always call 911, Landman said.

Related: Be Ready Utah: CPR training (for when someone stops breathing)

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Can Siri or Alexa help with CPR?