For healthcare providers, the COVID-19 pandemic added an extra layer of complexity to their service provision. Not only did the sector have to deal with an overload of seriously ill people, but there were the implications of a contagious virus to cope with too.
Lockdowns and other measures designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 made it difficult – or impossible – to see, diagnose and care for everyone in person. Voice-enabled services have been in development and used in the healthcare sector for years. However, the pandemic shifted the focus to how and how quickly they could be implemented on a wider scale.
What is voice-enabled technology?
Whether you call it voice-activated, voice-recognition, voice-control, or voice-enabled software, its key aim is to make our lives safer, faster, and smarter. And it’s not just helpful in getting the weather forecast, your account balance or using a smartphone safely while driving.
The most commonly used and well-known apps include Siri on your smartphone, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant. They reduce our dependence on a keyboard or other interface to operate devices. Voice assistants can be used to find information, play media, negotiate company telephone menus and more.
They can simplify and expedite processes before a ‘real’ person needs to take over – or negate the need for one at all. They can also allow tasks to be carried out more quickly: people speak faster than they type, so using your voice can be extremely useful.
Applications for voice-enabled services in the healthcare industry
The use of voice-enabled technology in healthcare is not limited to making it easier for doctors to dictate patient notes. From providing patients with information on their conditions and access to services to detecting and treating various ailments, voice-recognition software offers many possibilities.
A patient journey through the system from first accessing a healthcare service to exiting it can be arduous. However, there are plenty of areas where this journey is being improved with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions using voice recognition.
What are the limitations of voice-enabled technologies?
There is always the risk of a server being down, power failure, or user error as with any technology.
The human voice is an incredibly complex instrument, and artificial intelligence solutions are continually improving. However, there will be limitations to recognition and comprehension. And there is always the possibility that people are faking or attempting to hide symptoms.
Healthcare providers need to be ready with the proper IT infrastructure to integrate voice-enabled technologies, including electronic health records. In addition, finding the correct balance between privacy and efficacy will be essential.
A brighter future for the healthcare industry
The healthcare industry will have to address all these points carefully to ensure they and their clients get the best out of the technology available to them. Voice-enabled technologies will make a massive difference to the patient experience. And that’s something in which we all have a vested interest.
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