The dynamic world of voice technology is impacting healthcare through a number of use cases, as technologies like natural language processing allow computers to understand what humans can say – and allowing computers to speak back.
In a HIMSS21 Digital discussion between David Metcalf, director of UCF’s institute for simulation and training, and Teri Fisher, physician and clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, Fisher pointed out voice allows providers to multitask, and is also efficient and omnipresent.
“We are at a very interesting time for healthcare and voice technology, because of the computing power – we’re already starting to see some radical changes in the way we experience the healthcare journey,” Fisher said.
Metcalf and Fisher pointed to the advances in the ability for voice technology as aiding telehealth advances, noting a mix of modalities – between chatbots, text and voice – will provide patients with the right tool for the right time in the right place.
“Wearables and voice-based technology is another great innovation, with incredible advances coming our way, like the ability to hear vocal intonations or pick up on early traces of Alzheimer’s,” Metcalf said.
The evolution of voice technology will also aid patients in navigating the user interfaces of remote monitoring devices and personal health devices, Fisher pointed out.
“The integration of these technologies in the healthy home of the future is something we should also be looking at,” he said, pointing to voice enabled devices like Amazon Echo.
Fisher explained these technologies could be used in the home to inspire healthy habits and noted the cost of these devices are relatively low.
“What that means is people have access to a very powerful computer, and I see these as potentially being the hub to the healthcare experience for people,” he said. “Not only can they be a source of information—like asking the device for first aid advice – but they are already offering sources of information from the Mayo Clinic.”
Eventually, Fisher sees a future where these devices can offer voice-based diagnoses and even treatment.
“It’s going to become a hub of an entire healthcare journey – they’ll wake up in the morning and have a conversation with this device the way they would with a physician, and will help guide them with their treatment,” he said.
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