According to Emarketer, the number of smart speakers in the UK is projected to grow by almost a third in 2019, after impressively doubling in 2018. Whether it’s an Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, or Microsoft’s Cortana, smart speakers are taking over the homes of those in the UK and beyond at magnificent speed. Many people are beginning to rely on these programs for simple tasks such as checking the weather, asking what the time is, turning off the lights at bedtime, or even ordering their weekly shop.
While these devices are proving to be fantastic for carrying out these kinds of tasks, this technology has the potential to do so much more.
Many industries are beginning to get their hands on voice recognition technology for a number of business use-cases. Hospitals and healthcare providers in particular have found that voice assistants can help increase efficiency and improve the patient experience.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of just how this is being done.
Improving efficiency with voice assistants
It is not hard to imagine how much more efficient the running of a healthcare organisation could be with the help of voice assistants. For example, they could capture notes automatically or prioritise requests from patients remotely before attending in person.
This popular piece of technology is also empowering patients to manage their own health. For example, individuals with mobility disabilities or impaired vison are able to complete tasks without the need to move around.
Providing instant information to patients
There are many common and simple questions about treatments that usually do not require the need for a face-to-face meeting with a Doctor. Instead, these can be answered with a patient information leaflet or medicine instructions.
But at times, this information can be easily missed by a vulnerable patient leaving them feeling confused or frustrated. In order to address this problem, many healthcare providers are beginning to make information easily accessible via a chatbot- reducing the number of unnecessary trips to the Doctors and saving the stress of patients.
The use of chatbots in healthcare is becoming increasingly popular in recent years including helping patients with mental health. For instance, the chatbot ‘Woebot’ combines natural learning processing (NLP) with cognitive behaviour therapy techniques to help people monitor and manage their mental health.
Past research has also suggested that people generally find it easier to talk to a virtual companion about more sensitive and personal subjects than a real person. Thus, chatbots have the potential to play a valuable role in helping patients manage sometimes stigmatised conditions such as mental health.
More face-to-face meetings between Doctors and patients?
While we previously discussed how voice technology can reduce the need for patients to visit a Doctor, sometimes these meetings are necessary.
Past research has shown that patients wish to spend more time having face-to-face time with their healthcare providers. However, unfortunately, this is not always possible for Doctors due to the administrative tasks they are faced with. In fact, according to a fairly recent report, physicians spend more than half of their workday on electronic health records (EHR) or other administrative tasks. Just 27 percent of their time was spent on face-to-face meetings with patients.
Voice assistants can help healthcare professionals complete mundane and time-consuming tasks, allowing them to focus on more human tasks instead. For instance, programs like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri can help take care of billing, inventory and claims management.