Jason Berek-Lewis Creator, Healthy Startups
Image via http://firetuts.com
Siri, Apple's interactive voice assistant is a tool that I got bored with pretty quickly. While I no longer own an iPhone, I did use Siri on my wife's phone - and I used it for a total of 5 minutes. I didn't see the point of using it.
I do see the point of using a voice assistant on my phone and, as a user of a Galaxy Nexus, I am looking forward to what Google will introduce in the form of its own voice assistant, reportedly named Majel.
There is a danger in Apple, Google and other smart phone manufacturers and develpoers ignoring the huge benefits voice assistants and voice interaction with phones and tablets could bring to healthcare. Here are just a few areas of healthcare that could be disrupted by a digital voice assistant:
- Medication reminders
- Self management of chronic conditions
- Helping patients to access health information
- Prompts/ reminders for healthy behaviours
- Diet planning - should I eat X or Y?
- Managing medical records
I have a mechanical heart valve and I take Warafrin. I get regular INR tests. I track my test results and my Warfarin dose by adding the latest INR and dose to a note in my Evernote app. This isn't a particularly efficient or actionable way of managing my INR/ Warfaring dose on a smart phone. Image if I could do this:
- open Siri or an Android equivalent - or an app that can access this feature
- Tell the voice assistant/ app my current INR and Warfarin dose
- Ask the voice assistant/ app to "map" my INR
- The app then creates a graph charting the ups and downs of my INR over the last 12 months.
- I could then ask the app to transpose another graph charting my Warfarin dose over the same period.
I'm super interested in comparing different layers of data. I don't know if there is a correlation, but imagine if I could ask my phone's assistant to compare a graph of my INR with my bike riding workouts stored in RunKeeper or with my dietary intake data stored in another app.
Then voice assistants became social
This is likely some way down the track, but the true power of voice assistants on phones may lie in them becoming more social. Imagine if I could do this:
- I could ask my voice assistant to compare my calorie intake and exercise patterns with those of my (consenting) firends or a random sample of people who share my demographics
- I could ask my voice assistant to scan my social networks for healthy recipes being shared by my friends
- I could ask my phone to set up an exercise or diet "challenge" with my friends on Facebook or Google+.
The future use of voice assistants in healthcare is only limited by technology and imagination - the boundaries of both are being pushed all the time. Where and how do you think Siri, Majel and others will disrupt health? Let me know in the comments below.