The global voice technology market (think Siri, Google, and Alexa) is poised to see a continued annual growth rate of nearly 24% through 2023, according to research by Technavio. This technology is particularly suited for older adults and those with disabilities. In fact, Amazon’s voice technology assistant, Alexa is already assisting patients at homeand medical professionals in the workplace. The e-commerce giant has invested substantial resources in the health care space to deliver third-party solutions to change the voice and face of patient care including in home health care. Here are just some of the applications available:
- Managing Type 2 diabetes. A voice interface feature supports people with diabetes by providing a broad range of information and interaction capabilities.
- Assisting the elderly with taking medications. An Alexa-based online app helps nurses to check if a patient has taken his or her medications; it also provides family members with access to the app for their loved one. This app streamlines routine tasks for caregivers and provides peace of mind to the family that medication adherence is taking place.
- Managing blood pressure. A smart watch with a monitoring feature can calculate blood pressure and communicate these readings via Alexa.
- Requesting diagnostics suggestions. An Alexa-enabled “personal physician” makes available advice and information from thousands of qualified doctors to engage with patients about their symptoms. The app is also capable of helping patients identify certain health issues. After sharing symptoms with the app, users are also provided with specific suggestions in terms of what might be the problem.
- Getting emergency services information. An Alexa-based application allows users to contact urgent care, get directions to the nearest facility and information on wait times, and reserve a spot on the practitioners’ queue. If a patient has fallen and other devices (panic button, etc.) are not nearby, smart speakers are available to turn to. From the caregiver’s perspective, the ability to interface with voice-enabled devices puts him/her ahead of the game to take action in a crisis.
- Assisting EMTs with hands-free actions. For example, Alexa is being used by an ambulance service in Massachusetts to provide medical assistance to EMTs. While these small devices are not the primary source of care or reference, they can be used as an important backup to help EMTs get the job done. When you consider the sensitive and urgent nature of what happens in an ambulance, the time saved in a situation like this is often a matter of life and death.
- Receiving health tips for a healthier lifestyle. Via Alexa, daily health tips can be provided to patients along with the news, weather and other up-to-the-moment information.
- Accessing live first aid tutorials. Patients can receive self-care instructions and quick answers from reliable sources on any Alexa-enabled device.
With numerous voice technology platforms and apps available already as well as under development, HIPAA compliance is critical in protecting a patient’s information. As compliance is being addressed, apps will become even more sophisticated and useful in the health care sector.
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Sources: Healthcare Weekly, Home Care