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01 Nov. 2017 | Comments (0)

According to the Future Today Institute, about 50 percent of our interactions with computers will be via voice by 2023. Voice interfaces are already having an impact on health. The recently completed Alexa Diabetes Challenge demonstrated that voice-computer interfaces can play a role in chronic condition management. Are you up-to-speed on this trend? To help, I've outlined five questions and answers about the current state of voice interfaces in healthcare.

1. Is interest in the potential of voice interfaces in health rising?

Yes. For example, over the last couple of months there has been a steady increase in references to voice interfaces and healthcare, partly driven by the Alexa Diabetes Challenge. (See chart below.)

Source: DigiHealth Informer, Search Time Frame: August - October 2017

2. What are the technologies helping to make voice interfaces in health possible?

Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, Big Data and cloud computing are helping to drive the implementation of voice technologies in health. (See chart below.)

Source: DigiHealth Informer, Search Time Frame: August - October 2017

3. What diseases are current areas of focus?

Right now, diabetes is a major area of focus. However, there is some controversy about whether using voice analysis to diagnose mood and cognitive disorders is appropriate given that the technology is not yet 100 percent accurate.

4. Which organizations are leading the way in health-related voice interfaces?

Some interesting, but less-known organizations using voice interfaces include:

  • Catalia Health: They have developed the Mabu personal healthcare companion to aid in chronic disease management. It is using a combination of voice and facial recognition technologies to guide care.
  • Wellpepper: Winners of the Alexa Diabetes Challenge, they developed Sugarpod, a multimodal solution, including a smart foot scanner, that provides specialized voice, mobile, video and web interactions based on the task and patient preferences to support patient adherence to comprehensive care plans.
  • Front Porch: This organization runs retirement homes and is deploying voice interfaces to aid in senior care

5. What challenges stand in the way of broader voice adoption in health?

A key challenge right now is the management and protection of patient-generated data and ensuring HIPAA compliance. However, Orbita, a provider of voice-first software for connected experiences, has recently announced a number of partnerships focusing on utilizing voice interfaces in healthcare with privacy baked into these initiatives.

Some Questions for You

Are you preparing for health's voice-enabled future? Do you understand how the landscape is changing, where innovation is happening in this area and how it may impact your product, service or business?

If not, it's time to start thinking about these questions carefully. You may have less time to prepare than you think.

  • About the Author: Fard Johnmar

    Fard Johnmar

    Fard Johnmar is a Senior Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research and Founder and President of Enspektos, a globally respected digital health innovation consultancy. He is a nearly 20-yea…

    Full Bio | More from Fard Johnmar


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