The future of voice technologies in healthcare

AI-powered voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, and others are all around us making our lives easier. These voice assistants complete several tasks by just following the voice commands we give them. In addition to becoming a part of our personal lives, voice technologies have made a foray into different sectors to simplify several tasks, save costs, enhance efficiency, and do a lot more!

One domain that is reaping the benefits of voice technologies is healthcare. Voice technologies have made inroads in this sector and streamlined several functions. Voice technologies in healthcare have proved to be beneficial to clinicians, technology experts, and patients alike.

Voice technologies made a tangible difference in the healthcare sector during the COVID-19 pandemic when voice assistants like Siri simplified the process of answering CDC COVID-19 evaluation questions. Besides, they made it easier to maintain a low-contact environment during the pandemic. The benefits that voice assistants offered during the pandemic have made them an integral part of the healthcare ecosystem. As such, they are being adopted for streamlining different healthcare functions.

Some areas of applications of voice technologies in the healthcare sector are:

  • Voice Assistants in Procedure Rooms

  • Voice assistants come as a boon in procedure rooms where a sterile environment needs to be maintained. Voice assistants drastically reduce the instances of physical contact.

    Voice assistants like Alexa, Cortana, Siri, etc., are integrated with electronic health record (EHR) systems. This enables surgeons in the procedure rooms to easily access the required information about the patient at any time. The doctors only need to speak into their headsets and the voice assistant picks up the message and instantly pulls out the required reports and displays them on screens for quick and easy reference. Doctors can also communicate with other doctors through headsets.

  • Role of Voice Assistants in Updating EHRs

  • Speech-to-text software accurately transcribes the notes of physicians. They overcome the shortcomings of manual transcription such as slow speed, inaccuracies, illegible handwriting, insufficient documentation procedures, and more.

  • Voice Technologies Assisting Physicians

  • Voice assistants can accurately capture clinical notes in a physician’s room or operating room, etc. They take over the task of writing prescriptions, recording medical histories of patients, and more. This frees up the time of physicians who can focus on the patients.

  • Improved Management of Emergency Care

  • Technology experts are working on including a feature in voice assistants that can enable patients to get information about wait times in emergency rooms. The patients only need to ask for details such as wait times, and the distance of the emergency care from their location, and the voice assistants will furnish these details. Patients can choose a suitable urgent care centre based on this information. This greatly enhances the patient experience as it reduces wait times and provides patients with timely care.

  • Voice Technologies Assisting Patient Recovery

  • Voice interfaces help patients connect with their environment with little or no movement. Whether it is in the recovery room of a hospital or after discharge at home, patients can use voice assistants for performing simple activities like dimming lights, regulating room temperature, etc.

    Voice assistants can also be used to remind patients to take medication on time, schedule appointments, and more.

    Voice technologies in healthcare are here to stay! They are revolutionising how healthcare systems function.

    Some future trends to watch out for:

    Smart Speakers: Smart speakers integrate with the internet and take over tasks like refilling prescriptions, scheduling appointments, updating EHRs, managing various digital transactions, and more.

    Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) and Text to Speech(TTS) Intervention: These technologies help build custom applications. that can take on tasks like clinical documentation, compliance checks, and more.

    Voice Chatbots: Language models like GPT, BERT, etc., are expected to cause major changes in the field of voice-based chatbots. The innovations in voice chatbots have been slower than other AI-based innovations because of the lack of availability of high-quality data sets, variations in dialects, and more. However, tech experts are now focusing on this area and are looking to make voice chatbots more efficient and user-friendly.

    In conclusion:

    As voice technologies evolve, the level of acceptability and adoption in the healthcare sector will only increase. Technology experts are already working on more innovations that will streamline tasks like answering patient queries, providing post-discharge information, managing functions like transportation, scheduling, patient monitoring systems and a lot more!

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