‘There is no aspect of modern health care it won’t impact’
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Voice-first technology is gaining serious traction in home health care through offerings like Cigna’s “Answers by Cigna” and Boston Children’s Hospital’s “KidsMD,” as well as through a host of other assistants that use artificial intelligence to allow people to communicate with their health devices the same way they talk to each other.
Bradley Metrock, CEO of Score Publishing, which owns and operates The Voice of Healthcare Summit scheduled for August, shared why voice-first technology may soon become as ubiquitous in health care as smartphones and tablets.
HHTN: Is the health care industry embracing voice care technology?
METROCK:The health care industry has been very responsive to the arrival of voice-first technology—that is evident with the number of pilot projects we’ve seen, integrations into operations and general interest across the sector. Once the mainstream voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant are HIPAA compliant, we’ll really be off to the races.
HHTN: What are some of the barriers to a wider of embrace of voice-first technology by the health care industry?
METROCK:In addition to the lack of HIPAA compliance for some of the bigger voice assistants, another impediment is the lack of a true voice-first tablet. Yes, Amazon has integrated Alexa into its Kindle Fire line of hardware, but a deep integration of voice AI into a tablet computer, especially one with a health care- oriented use in mind, is needed. Another need is further development with near-field speech so doctors and medical technicians can speak to voice assistants accurately and easily while being relatively quiet—this technology exists but needs to be incrementally improved and then brought into a health care-specific hardware context.
HHTN: How can payers/insurers benefit from voice-first technology?
METROCK:Insurers and payers alike stand to benefit greatly from the rise of voice-first technology, as one major function will be to nudge patients toward better outcomes across a number of areas. Within the next two years in the U.S., it will become unfathomable to manage chronic diseases without the aid of a voice technology-enabled device of some kind, which will speak to you and you will be able to speak back as the device tracks your data and provides real-time guidance and encouragement that will have a significant positive effect.
HHTN: How can patients benefit from incorporating voice-first technology in their own health care?
METROCK:Patients will be confronted with the choice of whether to utilize voice-first devices to better track their own data and receive better, more real-time information at the cost of a bit more invasion of their privacy than we had before. For most, the tradeoff will be well worth it, but not everyone will come along willingly.
There will soon be no shortage of health care devices, applications and voice experiences designed to improve human health, in every possible way. It’s going to be an interesting, and largely exciting, next few years as the modern health care system adapts to integrate this technology.
HHTN: How do you see voice-first technology impacting the delivery of health care in the next five to 10 years?
METROCK:The technology will solve a number of problems within this span of time, from vastly reducing doctor note-taking and record-keeping, which dominates their time today; to reducing surgical and medical errors with patients; to being able to diagnose certain types of diseases; to providing patients with access to medical information and medical care in a way that was previously not possible. Voice-first technology represents the evolution of modern computing; there is no aspect of modern health care it won’t impact over the next five to 10 years.