Mayo Clinic, one of the pioneers of voice in the health care space, built an Alexa-enabled program to deliver first aid instructions.

Northwell Health is preparing to put Alexa in private rooms next month to allow patients to tap into their medical records.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is using voice interfaces to improve the way the provider manages patients’ electronic health records (EHR).

Voice, which has largely been seen as a novelty, is quickly becoming a valuable technology in the healthcare space. And voice, if you ask me, fits the needs of the health care space in a unique way compared to other technology offerings.

Voice Solves Real Problems

At Moonshot, we have found that voice serves four key demographics particularly well: children, parents, the elderly, and the physically impaired. After all, voice is best utilized when solving real problems, and voice offers unique people-centric solutions to challenges faced by these groups.

Vision or physical impairments make completing tasks more challenging. Voice assistants are making important steps towards more accessible user interfaces, from placing phone calls and texting caretakers with your Alexa to unlocking front doors to ordering groceries on your Google Home. And of course, making it possible for people to seamlessly get answers to a range of questions. Voice empowers individuals through its ease of use and by eliminating the friction of retrieving a phone or computer to accomplish a task. After all, it’s 3x faster to say English words than to type them.

Improving utility is important, but of course the health care space comes with unique challenges and considerations that will need to be thought through.

Vanderbilt Medical Center Develops an EHR Voice Assistant

Let’s dig a bit deeper into how Vanderbilt Medical Center is developing its own EHR voice assistant to give verbal summaries back to providers using natural language processing.

The problem: the EHR management system is a burdensome process that requires valuable time to be spent documenting instead of with patients. A designer at the medical center explains the problem nicely in this article from Healthcare IT News:

“It is a time-consuming and tactually complicated effort to understand the patient story…Often you know what piece of information you want but are forced to forage through a graphical user interface designed by someone that does not understand your clinical workflow. This can be an exasperating experience and one of the reasons EHRs often are cited as contributors to physician burnout.”

Two things to be noted here:

  • With voice, the hospital solve its problem by simplifying the process of getting and sharing medical records.
  • The systems they are using were not build to support their workflow.

The consensus among many health care providers is that the industry is going through a trial-and-error period with voice. At a recent health care conference, an industry professional warned of providers throwing money at voice thoughtlessly, resulting in “a lot of flameouts in healthcare.”

How to Get Started

But here’s the good news: tools exist to help providers test voice solutions in a way that mitigates cost and risk. For example, with design sprints, teams of designers, engineers, marketers, and strategists rapidly prototype products in five days or less. Organizations identify a problem they and their customers are trying to solve, come up with a rough solution, test the idea against feedback from real customers, and create a prototype of the minimum lovable product (the initial version of the product that can be created to generate the most customer love using the least amount of time and costing as little as possible). At Moonshot, we use design sprints as part of a larger process known as FUEL, in which we go beyond concepting and actually help companies launch products.

Design sprints can help healthcare providers avoid “flameouts” – and they also keep the patient and staff at the center of the product design.

Reach out to start creating more lovable experiences and products with voice.

Raika Sarkett

Raika Sarkett

Practice Lead, Voice