Voice- An Empathetic Choice for Patient Applications
Is Voice Assistance technology a boon to the healthcare patient community? Their growing adoption attests to their value and destiny to become an essential and reliable piece of the healthcare ecosystem. The global market for healthcare virtual assistants is expected to grow from $1.1 billion in 2021 to $6.0 billion by 2026 (Source: Global Voice Assistant Market by Market and Research, 2019 ). Microsoft’s $19.7 billion deal announcement in April 2021 to acquire speech-to-text software company Nuance Communications, proves that this is a red-hot technology sector.
The US population is aging, and long-term and assisted living is on an upward spiral. While aging is not by itself a disease, the elderly often need special care and assistance to maintain optimal health. Many of them living at home are expected to use technology aids, such as health apps on their phone, in addition to receiving assistance from caregivers, either family, friends, or professionals. Imagine how difficult or impossible it is for an aged person to work with complex screens in apps and access the information they are looking for.
Chronic disease needs constant vigilance by the healthcare provider. Stats in US healthcare spending reveal that 80% is spent on chronic disease management like cancer, alzheimers, dementia, diabetes, and osteoporosis, versus 20% for other care. These patients have to take daily medication, check their disease state at defined intervals during the day, perform recommended exercises, set up regular doctor appointments, and more.
Remote monitoring of chronic disease patients is now a reality as technology can transmit patient data wirelessly from the patient’s home into the offices of their physician. But, these remote systems are often connected to a home device with a companion app that monitors and collects the patient’s health data. These patient-facing apps often have multiple screens and features that require time and effort to onboard, use, and keep up with. It’s not surprising that patients easily get frustrated and abandon use of these applications or call the doctor’s office frequently with questions.
Adding to the above scenario, US physicians and healthcare workers are strained and often pushed to the limit in caring for the patient population. With the current ratio of 2.34 doctors per 1,000 people, it is often impossible for a doctor or assistant to respond to general patient questions in a timely fashion.
Enter the empathetic voice assistant. With voice assistants, the elderly and patients can now speak to the device for tasks such as- booking medical appointments, searching for any data on their condition, relaying information to their doctor- and more. And the app can converse with them in a natural way on topics such as “How are you feeling today?’ or ‘Did you take your medication at 2 PM?” and record the responses. Voice assistants empower a patient as he or she can progress in their self-care and management of their health. Additionally, the healthcare provider’s time is freed up as the voice assistant can provide quick, accurate responses to general patient queries.
What about the caregiver? Caregivers can also benefit from an empathetic voice assistant as they are always seeking ways to better care for their sick, aging, or chronic disease patients. In the digital age, caregivers are using apps such as AARP Caregiving that allows patient symptom monitoring, tracking medication intake and appointments, coordinating care with others, and a help center for questions. Wouldn’t it help to have a voice attached to these caregiving apps, an intelligent one that can provide a hands free, contactless experience? It will surely make life a bit easier for the strained caregiver.
Voice assistants come in many guises, but they all provide the patient with a conversational experience. The Alan AI platform is an advanced, complete in-app voice assistant platform that works with the existing UI of any healthcare app and adds a visual, contextual experience. Moreover, it can be deployed in simply a matter of days.
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