There's an app for that

New delivery service speeds into Houston

GoPuff is a combination of concierge service and errand runner. Photo courtesy of goPuff

Everyone knows how hard it is to manage to get everything done in a single 24-hour period. Errands to run, groceries to pick up, food to buy, prescriptions to get. To-do lists seem never-ending, and for busy professionals, can be absolutely overwhelming.

Enter goPuff, a Philadelphia-based retailer that has just launched in the Bayou City. Think of it as a combination of concierge service and errand runner. The company stocks more than 2,500 products across eight categories. Those items, ranging from snacks to beverages to household essentials to pet needs, are housed in centrally located facilities in Houston.

When customers need something, they log into their goPuff account, select what they want, and the company's delivery drivers bring it straight to their door. Delivery hours are from noon to 4:30 am, seven days a week, with a flat delivery charge of $1.95.

Founded in 2013, goPuff is now available in more than 90 cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. "Customers have been asking us to come to Houston since we first launched the concept, and we are thrilled to now bring that experience to the area and deliver the moments that matter most to this vibrant community," said Rafael Ilishayev, goPuff co-founder and co-CEO, in a statement announcing the expansion to Houston.

In Houston, the company will cover the enormity of the city, from the Texas Medical Center to Northeast Houston, Independence Heights to the Fifth Ward. Customers will place their orders on the goPuff app, the same way they would for other delivery services. Then, goPuff team members head out, collect what's needed, and deliver it.

The company touts its speed of delivery as a main selling feature; because the products are housed at goPuff facilities, drivers don't need to head all over town to collect needed items, and there are no third parties to work with. But what about cold treats like ice cream?

"Because we warehouse product inventory at our own facilities, we can quickly pack orders in our special insulated bins and pass them off to our driver partners for fast deliveries, keeping the ice cream cold," Liz Romaine of goPuff tells CultureMap.

Given the furious speed at which live in the Bayou City moves, goPuff should find a pretty warm welcome here in Houston.

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This story originally appeared on CultureMap.com.

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Building Houston

 
 

Meet MIA — Houston Methodist's new voice technology assistant. Photo via Getty Images

Hey, MIA. Start surgery.

These are the words Houston doctors are learning to say in the operating rooms, thanks to a first-of-its-kind voice technology developed by the Houston Methodist's Center for Innovation in collaboration with Amazon Web Services. In the same way we use programs like Alexa or Siri to make our everyday tasks easier, the Methodist Intelligent Automation, or MIA, is allowing medical professionals to improve the way they interact both with technology and patients alike.

"There's been a push in the industry for a long time that people sitting behind computers and typing and staring at a computer screen is inadequate," says Houston Methodist Chief Innovation Officer Roberta Schwartz. "There's been a desire to return people back to each other rather than physicians and look at a screen and patients look at a doctor looking at a screen."

Currently in its pilot phase, MIA is working to do just that through two key functions that shift the way medical professionals work in what Schwartz calls the "era of electronic medical records."

The first is through operating room voice commands. Here medical professionals can run through a series or checklists and initiate important actions, such as starting timers or reviewing time of anesthesia, through voice instead of by typing or clicking, which can become cumbersome during lengthy and highly detailed surgeries. Information is displayed on a large 80-inch TV in the operating suite and following surgery all of the data captured is imported into the traditional EMR program. The technology has been prototyped in two Houston Methodist O.R. suites so far and the hub aims to trial it in a simulation surgery by the end of the year.

Additionally, the hub is developing ambient listening technology to be used in a clinical setting with the same goal. Houston Methodist and AWS have partnered with Dallas-based Pariveda to create specialized hardware that (after gaining patient permission) will listen into doctor-patient conversations, transcribe the interaction, and draft a note that is then coded and imported directly into the EMR.

"For EMR the feedback is that it's clunky, it's click-heavy, it's very task oriented," says Josh Sol, who leads digital and clinical innovation for Houston Methodist. "Our goal with the Center for Innovation and this technology hub is to really transform that terminology and bring back this collaboration and the patient-physician relationship by removing the computer but still capturing all the pertinent information."

The ambient listening technology is further off and is currently in user acceptance testing with clinicians.

"They've had some great feedback, whether it's changing how the note is created, changing the look and feel of the application itself," Sol adds. "All feedback is good feedback at this point. So we've taken it in, we prioritize the work, and we continue to improve the application."

And the hub doesn't plan to stop there. Schwartz and Sol agree that the next step for this type of medical technology will be patient facing. They envision that in the near future appointment or surgery prep can be done through Alexa push notifications and medication reminders or follow up assessments could be done via voice applications.

"It's all going to be of tremendous value and it's coming," Schwartz says. "We may be taking the first baby steps, but each one of these voice technologies for our patients is out there on the horizon."

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