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Panel: Voice-tech progress needed in health care

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Health care insiders at the VOICE Summit discuss early industry uses of voice technology
Health care insiders at the VOICE Summit discuss early industry uses of voice technology - ()

Hospitals and life sciences companies are exploring voice-technology applications, but the health care industry still is figuring things out.

That was the consensus during a breakout session at the VOICE Summit at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark on Wednesday.

“Right now, we’re starting small and continuing to show value to our hospital board, but the major investment in voice technology isn’t there yet,” said Sarah Lindauer, product portfolio manager at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

“We have a few pilot cases in terms of voice technology. Our physicians can use voice technology to see who’s on duty, be reminded of guidelines, medical cases, etc. That’s what we’re focusing on right now,” Lindauer said. “Another case is that our surgical teams, through voice technology, have the value of making hand-free inquiries before surgery hands free and not having to take off their gloves to click onto a computer. So we’re slowly showing value but we haven’t poured money into voice yet. We’re just testing it to get a buy in from the hospital and getting clinicians comfortable with it right now.”

Jessie Gatto, design strategist at Humana, agreed that the major investment in voice technology has generally yet to be made in health care, but believes the prospect is there.

“There are certainly big opportunities to reduce repetitive tasks with voice technology,” she said. When we think about voice as a channel, we see opportunities across spaces. We want to create multi-channel solutions for our members. If you can get to the point in which a customer can call and have a conversation with a computer – that would be amazing. That’s how we’re thinking about it. In terms of prioritizing that and getting funding though, we’re still asking whether voice is a solution in itself or just another channel to our customers.”

Cris De Luca, global director of digital innovation at Johnson & Johnson Innovation, said the pharmaceuticals company has used voice technology in its consumer division.

One example of this, he said, is for patients to be able to personalize their allergy symptoms within Amazon’s Alexa, so that Alexa can tell them what the day might be like for them in terms of allergy conditions. J&J also created a baby system for expecting parents that can answer basic health questions during pregnancy.

De Luca said that start-up companies in its incubation labs are perhaps pointing to the future of voice technology in health care. One such company, he said, is developing a program to analyze voices to possibly detect early symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Vince Calio

Vince Calio

Vince Calio covers health care and manufacturing for NJBIZ. You can contact him at vcalio@njbiz.com.

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Alex Grand July 26, 2018 8:40 pm

very insightful session and great to see folks so focused on innovation at big pharma companies right here in newark.