By Emerson Sklar, Applause
Imagine that you’re enjoying a leisurely evening at home, unwinding from a long and stressful day at work. Suddenly the evening takes an unexpected turn. As you’re slicing up some veggies for dinner, the knife slips off a carrot and slices into your finger instead. It’s a serious cut, and you’re not sure how best to treat it. That’s not a problem, though. You can just ask Alexa.
In fact, you can use the free Mayo Clinic First Aid skill to ask Alexa how to handle many common injuries and mishaps, ranging from cuts to spider bites. Alexa can even walk you through administering CPR while awaiting the arrival of emergency responders. The teaming of the Mayo Clinic with Alexa is just one example of how voice technology is poised to have a transformative impact upon healthcare.
The Powerful Sound Of Your Voice
Recent advances in voice technology have touched virtually every aspect of our lives. With simply the sound of your voice you can now control your home’s temperature, tap into global databases, or request the playing of your favorite song. Improvements in voice technology have given your voice unprecedented power to manage life on a daily basis.
But in no other industry is voice technology likely to have a greater impact than in healthcare. And the transformative impact of voice technology will span virtually all aspects of healthcare, including:
Voice technology is already providing the above benefits — and many more — in the healthcare industry. But in spite of recent advances, we’re only at the dawning of the age of voice technology.
Big Benefits Available NOW
The future is bright for the application of voice technology in healthcare. But so is the present. Voice technology is beneficially impacting healthcare in many ways right now, in 2019. Following are the top five ways in which healthcare will be impacted by voice technology this year:
The use of voice technology in editing and retrieving patient medical records will likely soon be universal throughout the healthcare industry. But plenty of practitioners are managing medical records with voice technology right now.
Early indications show that patients are certainly open to interfacing with chatbots in a healthcare setting. Northwell Health, the largest health system in New York state, recently initiated a chatbot program for oncology patients. The organization reported a greater than 80 percent engagement rate through chatbots with that patient population.
These programs, of course, are not intended to be used in lieu of medical treatment. But they can help consumers access basic information quickly and easily, simultaneously enabling healthcare personnel to focus on high-impact tasks and reduce the time they spend on the mundane.
It’s estimated that by 2020, half of all internet searches will be conducted by voice. And that gives healthcare organizations — those, at least, that implement a voice-enabled approach to marketing — an opportunity to stand out from the competition.
Not A Sure Thing
Despite the many existing and anticipated benefits of voice, the deployment of voice technology must be carefully managed by healthcare organizations. The benefits of voice will not just magically appear. Many healthcare organizations are likely to stumble in their attempts to implement voice technology.
How can healthcare organizations and consumers tap into the benefits of voice technology while avoiding the “bad experiences?” The key is thoroughly testing from your users’ perspectives – your patients, your clinicians, and everyone in between.
Healthcare, after all, provides the services that are essential to all people. And that’s why healthcare organizations should be held to a higher standard than the voice experiences provided by organizations in any other industry. Testing can help healthcare organizations achieve and maintain that higher standard.
Do No Harm
All healthcare professionals seek to follow the traditional Hippocratic oath: first, do no harm. As healthcare organizations seek to reap the benefits offered by voice technology, they would be wise to follow a new Voice Hippocratic oath: first, do good.
That’s the best way to ensure that healthcare organizations and their patients get the most from the astounding potential offered by modern voice technology.
About The Author
Emerson Sklar is a Tech Evangelist and Solution Architect for Applause. Since joining Applause in 2015, he has helped countless companies improve quality across every phase of the SDLC through a human-centric, community-driven approach to testing. Before Applause, Emerson worked for Borland, the Army Intelligence and Securities Command and the Army Research Lab. Outside of work, he enjoys cooking overly elaborate meals through science, adventure cycling and volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America.