"Alexa, can you play some jazz music?"
"Hey Siri, set a countdown timer for 90 minutes."
"Ok Google, remind me to take my blood pressure medicine at 2 PM."
Most owners of a smart speaker or voice assistant device probably haven't progressed much beyond playing their favorite radio stations or turning their lights on and off. And the idea of using a voice assistant to set a specific reminder at a specific time is probably something most of us have not done.
When you see what automation services like IFTTT.com can do, and understand how they integrate Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant into their different home automation and smart technologies — HVAC, appliances, entertainment, and security systems including video camera — you realize these voice assistants are capable of so much more.
Currently, nearly 1 in 5 households have a smart speaker — there were almost 44 million voice assistants sold in 2017 alone — but if we count smart TVs, radios, and even mobile phones, we're quickly reaching the point where every household will have some sort of voice assistant.
So it shouldn't be too surprising that voice assistants are entering the health care field, or that they can play a useful part in monitoring and managing prescription drug usage for people, using the same kind of technology that powers the other automation capabilities.
For one thing, as many as 23% of U.S. physicians now report using voice assistants at work. They can ask clinically related questions and get answers directly, ask questions about drug doses and interactions, dictate patient notes and enter information into a patient's health record, and even deliver messages to their patients, such as reminders or follow-up questions.
Pharma and health care companies are starting to develop voice apps that will let doctors ask about symptoms, treatments, and drug dosages.
But doctors aren't the only ones who can benefit from voice assistant technology: patients can use it as well, whether it's a reminder to take their pills or a way to identify certain symptoms. Here are a few ways patients can use a voice assistant for self-care and prescription management.
Voice assistants can help with adherence through a combination of conversational inquiries, such as, “Have you taken your designated prescription today, Martha?”
Patients can also tell their voice assistant they've taken their medication so it can be logged into their patient health record, as well as monitored by family members — "Alexa, tell Prescription Companion I've taken my medication." Below is an example of what the conversation structure in PullString Converse could look like:
To see a video of how voice assistants can help with adherence through conversational interactions like adding prescription reminders, logging medication taken, and emailing a summary to patients, check out PullString Converse: Prescription Companion Demo.
Lifestyle/Medical Condition Assessments
Organizations can leverage the power of rapid adoption of voice-enabled platforms to enable patients to regularly check-in and determine quality-of-life changes throughout the course of their treatment plans. More real-time information helps both health care providers (HCP) and pharma companies drive more successful health outcomes for their patients.
For example, sometimes patients need a quick medical condition assessment, but may not have the time or interest in going to the doctor's office.
A voice assistant can help patients regularly check in with their physician, enabling doctors to keep up with their patient’s mental and physical state, and to determine whether they need to change their medication or treatment plan. This kind of interaction not only saves time for the patients, it allows the doctor to more quickly and easily manage their patients' care when an emergency arises.
This is especially important as patients go on new medications, which could have serious side effects. Rather than scheduling a doctor's appointment several days out, a patient could schedule a call so they can discuss their symptoms and condition. The doctor can then do additional research with their voice assistant and see if they can find a solution.
Clinical Trial Interactions
HCPs can engage patients throughout the entire lifecycle of clinical trials by enabling in-home support for surveys, feedback, and updates through conversation with smart speakers.
Researchers can engage patients throughout an entire clinical trial through in-home support. They can take regular surveys and feedback — "Ok Google, tell My Clinical Trial I took my medication on time" — as well as provide feedback through voice surveys.
Patients and trial participants can ask questions and get answers, they can share their experiences through their daily interactions, and it makes record keeping much easier on the trial participants. If participants can easily keep up with tracking the drug and its effects, that helps avoid delays and increases the number of participants who see the trial through to the end.
As the technology platforms continue to add increasing levels of privacy protections and move towards HIPAA compliance, additional possibilities for clinical trial interactions can be explored.
As a recent article in Pharmaceutical Technology stated:
Patients who are more comfortable accessing their daily assessment surveys and recording information about their wellness are likely to be more engaged and active participants in a trial. Even recruitment can be done more effectively because you’re providing them with a way to participate that’s less burdensome than traditional methods. So the cost of data collection goes down, the quality of data collection goes up and hopefully the outcome of the clinical trial is more reliable.
Are you curious about how voice-first technology can improve health care operations and patient outcomes, today and in the future? Join us at The Voice of Healthcare Summit on August 7 in Boston. Register with discount code PULLSTRING2018 for 25% off tickets.
To learn how PullString can help enable improved HCP relationships through engaging voice applications, please contact us to speak with one of our voice app design experts for a free consultation or demo.