Voice applications are emerging as the new frontier for healthcare. The adoption of smart speakers is enabling a new breed of applications that can help patients both in the home and at the hospital. These venues are opening the door for a new set of applications that simplify everything from booking appointments, patient monitoring, wellness, medical reminders and even telemedicine.
Smart speakers have grown in popularity and according to Forbes there are more than 90 million devices expected this year. Led largely by Amazon Echo and Google Assistant, the growth of these devices and their low cost has enabled new scenarios in healthcare. We believe that the hospital of the future has no walls and the smart speaker are a great example of how the traditional walls of care can be broken down.
In the home
Last week Amazon announced that they approved six new Alexa skills that are using a HIPAA eligible environment. This means that a capabilities range from finding an emergency room, refilling prescriptions and recovering from surgery. While Amazon is starting with six initial skills it’s clear from our clients across the healthcare space that the interest in HIPAA based voice applications is very high. There are a number of reasons for this:
• Patients may not be able to use their hands and voice interactions are a low friction interface
• Hospitals want to leverage existing EMR tools but need to maintain HIPAA
• Doctors and Nurses want to reduce the time they spend doing data entry
• In some scenarios mobile apps/websites are still too much friction to get engagement The released skills are just beginning to scratch the surface of health interactions.
The experience of the future will allow you to go all the way from diagnosis, to appointment, to prescription in one transaction.
In the hospital
We're also seeing a new set of applications in hospital rooms that enable friction-free patient interactions. Simple mechanics like turning on the TV or turning off the lights are enhanced with skills that allow patients to ask for a nurse with just their voice. Cedars-Sinai recently deployed such an experience for 100 hospital beds.
The future of medicine may allow your smart speaker to hear your cough, suggest you talk live to a doctor and dispatch cough medicine right to your front door.
Amazon has been leading the charge with enterprise voice apps and has released a toolkit for such application development called Blueprint. The platform makes it easy to deploy internal knowledge center applications such as Q/A applications, Checklists, Internal News, Employee Onboarding and more. Blueprint provides for an easy on-ramp for organizations exploring Alexa for business and can be a good avenue for healthcare organizations starting with non-HIPAA applications.
Companies going beyond the basics can hook into scheduling software, EMR information including patient data, prescriptions and more. The six released Amazon applications show the breadth of the capabilities:
• Express Health Today: Employee wellness and incentives
• MyChildren's Recovery After Surgery: Surgery recovery, daily check-in and appointments
• Swedish Health Connect: Appointment scheduling
• Atrium Health: Find urgent care and emergency rooms (*Rightpoint Client)
• Livongo Blood Sugar Lookup: Lookup blood sugar information
The future of Healthcare
We believe that doctors should spend more time with patients and less time entering data into systems. Similarly, we believe that patients need to spend less time filling out forms and medical history, each time they have an interaction. Voice is one of the many tools that we’re exploring to improve patients’ lives.