Talking Alexa: Call My Doctor!

With more than 10,000 skills in the market, Amazon Alexa is taking on new use cases each and every day. The virtual assistant has come a long way from her days of providing basic information and trivia. She’s now enabling everything from smart home automations to banking transactions. And with the recent launch of the Echo Show, Amazon’s first Alexa device with a touchscreen, she’ll soon be expanding her capabilities to support more complex experiences with images, videos, and more.

The rise of voice is often attributed to the impact that it is making for our favorite consumer brands. Yet the reality is that voice has the potential to solve many challenges in healthcare. Just as it is making our lives as consumers easier - after all, voice is our natural way to engage - it can also make life better for millions of patients. Sure, privacy and security concerns are valid; however, there are still countless use cases that don’t depend on sensitive information. As a case in point, here are three ways that Alexa can revolutionize healthcare today:

Improving the Patient Experience for Hospitals

Voice offers unprecedented opportunity to innovate the hospital room experience, helping patients to feel more comfortable during what can often be a stressful time. Alexa can enable patients to bring the comforts of home into the hospital room by syncing personal streaming accounts like Spotify and Netflix. With the increasing convergence of voice and visual, she might soon be displaying those Netflix movies in addition to other relevant information. Imagine having details about a condition, or even what’s for lunch, display on command. For children, their favorite characters could appear as familiar voices share get well wishes. Such solutions are increasing patient satisfaction and could possibly even lead to shorter stays.

Empowering the Disabled

For those with physical disabilities, performing basic household tasks and navigating daily life can be a struggle. Fortunately, voice is already enabling these individuals to gain back independence. Consider the work of Inglis, an organization that owns and manages accessible, affordable apartments for the disabled among providing several other services. It's deploying Alexa devices, along with smart lighting and smart thermostats, into these apartments to empower people living with quadriplegia and hemiplegia. In doing so, Alexa is not only enabling affected individuals to be more self-sufficient but also reducing the costs associated with in-home care.

Providing Diagnosis Support

We’ve all wondered if that sharp stomach pain is actually appendicitis or questioned why we were suddenly plagued with a headache. Now, rather than pulling out your phone and searching, you can ask Alexa to explain your symptoms. Back in March, WebMD launched an Alexa skill to answer health questions, and HealthTap has a similar skill available. Importantly, while both of these skills try to provide appropriate information, they emphasize that artificial intelligence can only be so accurate; both come with disclaimers that users should consult medical professionals for accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Then again, WebMD’s online channel urges users to take the same precautions.

Ultimately, the role of voice in healthcare will continue to evolve, just as it is doing across other industries. This evolution will no doubt accelerate with the convergence of voice and visual. Even just by telling - and showing - the possible causes for your headache, the WebMD skill will be all the more convenient to use. As the evolution continues, voice will increasingly become one of many channels integrated into broader digital health strategies. At this point, it will go from being a valuable care partner to truly driving a transformation.

Mobiquity’s Global Lab for Amazon Alexa is collaborating with providers, life sciences companies, and long term care facilities to explore new use cases for voice in healthcare. We encourage you to contact us to learn more about what we could do for your patients.

Comments