Considering how well-integrated voice activated technology has already been integrated into our daily lives, this topic would definitely not appear as novel to most of us.

For those of us who still consider this topic as unexplored territory, voice-activated technology is basically something which has been in the spotlight of the technology world for quite sometime. With its growth and rapid advancements, it has developed from what started off as standalone technology, to be intertwined with smartphones, and now evolved to the era of smart speakers. Some of the more well known examples would definitely include Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa. To put it in simpler terms, they can be considered as voice-operated “personal assistants”, with the ability to respond to your requests or queries in an instant. 

After smartphones, voice-activated smart speakers are definitely the next big step for voice assistants. One difference in which smart speakers have is that they usually require a ‘wake-up word’ such as “Ok, Google” in order to activate the speaker with one’s voice.

Based on a report published by a cybersecurity company, Symantec in November 2017, it was found that the market is unsurprisingly dominated by one of the pioneers of this technology, Amazon’s Alexa Echo range, making up approximately 73% of the market share. Google’s Google Home/Assistant comes in second and the numbers are expeditiously on the rise as adoption accelerates.

If you’re still unclear of the concept, here’s a short 30 second video which shows you some of the functions of Amazon’s Alexa.

Implications

Well, you’re all now probably wondering why we are even touching on this topic, and what is the relevance of Migraine Buddy or the healthcare sector related to voice-activated technology?

With how already 40% of American adults are using voice search in their daily routines, and with how estimates foresee that 50% of all queries will be done through voice searches by 2020, voice-enabled assistants are glaringly becoming more commonplace. 

When you put deeper thought into it, voice-enabled devices open up an entirely new realm of possibilities for medical organizations, for both patients and the clinician side. Just imagine! Voice assistants could help patients book to and from transportation rides to a hospital through ride sharing services, clear their doubts on common medical questions and even eliminate redundant doctor-visits, saving both sides’ time and effort in many aspects.

Although voice-activated searches can potentially benefit a vast majority of patients, it could also bridge a crucially significant gap for the handicapped and elderly. What or who could be classified under the category of handicapped is left open for one’s interpretation, but in our case could mean having a migraine and losing the ability to carry out simple daily tasks like others would. This helps to eliminate the barrier of confusing interfaces and get answers immediately like one would when consulting a medical professional face-to-face.

Some examples with how voice-enabled assistant have meshed with healthcare is the Carolinas HealthCare Skill, allowing patients to obtain information about the nearest hospital locations and even wait times. Boston Children’s Hospital also launched ‘KidsMD’, allowing parents to have access to medical advice on simple health conditions like “fever and Tylenol dosing”. This could work especially well if your child is having a fever at an ungodly time of the night and you need to know the correct medicinal dosage for your child.

However, with all technology, there is undoubtedly faults and areas in which we find dissatisfaction. Not to forget the issue with privacy and security that always brews up a heated discussion but we’d leave that to another time lest this article become too lengthy. With that, I bring this topic to a close, as I let you end with the thought of, what if Migraine Buddy dabbled into integrating voice-controlled technology as a feature?

What are your thoughts on voice-controlled technology? And what do you think about it being used in the healthcare sector? Are you an avid user? Late adopter? We’d love to hear from you!

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