The Potential of Voice-Activated Health Care

In August of 2017, there was an article that suggested that Amazon’s Alexa (the voice-triggered assistant in Amazon’s Echo platform) could be the future of home health care. Evidently home health aides are testing it in homes of elderly patients…and the early results are promising.

They interviewed one patient who has a cell phone and an alert device that only requires a button press, but she says, “…it often times takes a while for them to answer…but with Alexa it takes no time at all…”

The aides claim that Alexa helps them be more responsive, including when it comes to getting patients their medication (we already know what a problem adherence and compliance are - anything to make it easier to get medication could have a huge impact).

It’s clear that tech companies recognize that the potential in this area is limitless. Sonos (who makes speakers that connect to a person’s home wifi and plays music from your connected devices or streaming music services) just announced that their new version will support Alexa. For seniors who live alone, this could not only improve their care, but could provide piece of mind to family caregivers who worry about their loved ones living by themselves.

Sure, there are privacy issues involved here that will need to be addressed, but imagine when this technology migrates into acute care. Think about how this could be used in operating rooms or to assist EMTs who are racing someone in an ambulance to the nearest ER. 

I’m sure that some will question whether this type of technology is really necessary, or that it will be too hard to incorporate into the current system. Basically, all the same arguments people had against the use of electronic health records…