The Future of Home Health Care: Voice Apps?
Could voice-activated technology, like Alexa on the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot, or Google Home, one day have a place in home health care? For several weeks, nurses and aides at Libertana Home Health Care in California have experimented using Alexa with some elderly clients with good results.
Health care workers report that the voice app has helped them be more responsive to their clients' needs and clients say the voice assistant makes it easier and faster to get in touch with their home health aides. The companion online app also makes it easier to share information with family caregivers.
Amazon Web Services has paired with Merck & Co., Inc. on the Alexa Diabetes Challenge, which will award a $125,000 prize in September to the start-up company that designs a voice app to help patients with type 2 diabetes manage their condition. Orbita, a voice platform company, is developing new programs that could someday help health care providers ensure that patients take their medications and follow post-surgical instructions, for example, and allow information from clinical trials to be shared more easily.
Voice technology is still evolving and programs using voice-activated technology in health care are still being tested, but digital voice assistants from Amazon, Google, Apple, and other tech companies could forge a new path in consumer health.