Diagnosing Health Concerns with Voice Assistants

Sutherland Editorial

The role of voice-first technology continues to evolve and expand as these devices pour into every facet of our lives, including health and wellness. Already, doctors, nurses and health practitioners are utilizing voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant to support their daily routines. Things like note taking, record compiling and accessing patients’ medical history have all become a breeze to accomplish with nothing more than a simple voice command.

Diagnosing Health Concerns with Voice Assistants

As these AI-powered devices continue to learn, their functionality grows. Already, 20% of mobile queries are voice-activated. Being able to ask Siri anything at the drop of a hat and getting a response to your query is not only powerful in its immediacy, but it’s also changing consumer behavior and the ways in which people acquire information. This is becoming especially true for would-be patients, who are already in a Google state of mind when it comes to checking their symptoms and embrace the feasibility of voice assistants in helping them come to a desired medical action. Doing so through voice assistants that talk back to us as opposed to a less personal web-based search engine is transforming the reality of search into more of a conversation rather than a one-sided action.

So, what’s powering this switch toward full-blown dialogue between man and machine? Under the hood fueling most voice assistants, particularly Google Assistant, are featured snippets that dictate how Google takes in information and feeds it to these devices. Rather than offer a list of results, Google’s featured snippets simply reads the results out loud, taking away a critical touch point from users for added convenience. Voice assistants that can verbally relay any information to a person’s health query directly to them, and respond in near real-time to any follow-up questions, requests or need for clarification, clearly have the upper advantage when it comes to user experience. This sort of back-and-forth is much more akin to talking with an actual doctor about your health concerns rather than going down a WebMD search rabbit hole.

Voice assistants are truly revolutionizing the ways in which we search and receive information, making the task much more sociable due to their ability to actually converse with us—to an extent, that is. In order for these devices to even come close to matching the expertise or communication-level of actual health practitioners, search algorithms and the AI powering voice assistants will need to significantly advance.

Diagnosing Health Concerns with Voice Assistants

Getting search right remains tough, as you need to establish a seamless experience across every touch point. No voice assistant today can boast that absolutely, meaning that trip to the doctor remains very much a necessity. However, as they continue to evolve in both the quality and efficacy of their search deliverability results, voice assistants could be poised to become in-home health care diagnostic devices that rival an actual doctor’s visit.

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