Consumers interested in voice tech for health, adoption remains low, survey reports

A new consumer study, conducted by Voicebot and Orbita, found that 52% of consumers were interested in voice technology for health.
By Laura Lovett
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In the future Siri may be the go-to source for health information. A new consumer survey made up of roughly 1,000 participants found that more than half of its participants wanted to use voice assistants for healthcare.

WHY IT MATTERS

The survey, conducted by Voicebot and Orbita, reported that while today consumer adoption of voice assistants for healthcare was still relatively low (7.5%), there is consumer interest in the technology. 

Consumers were most enthusiastic about using voice assistants to look up illness symptoms. Of those that had already used vocie tech 72% said they were using this function. Meanwhile 32.2% of users reported that asking about an illness symptom was a use case that they would like to use but have not tried. The second most popular function of those using the technolgoy was asking about medication information (45.9%).  

“Question answering is the most common use case for voice assistants in general, not just specific to healthcare,” Nathan Treloar, Orbita president and cofounder, wrote to MobiHealthNews in an email. “The difference of using voice to ask a health question versus text is fundamental to the value proposition of voice generally: it’s accessible (hands-free), more intuitive and conversational. Re: patient-doctor. A virtual health assistant is not a replacement for a doctor. Conceptually, a virtual health assistant helps a patient access relevant healthcare information and services in those “care gaps” between visits or other care episodes. A virtual health assistant can help ensure that the doctor has more information about the patient’s wellness between care.”

The survey also broke down interest by age and found that participants between the ages of 40 and 60 were most interested in using the technology (54%). 

“It means that the demographic with the most income and the most willingness to spend on healthcare [is] most likely to be use these solutions,” Treloar wrote. 

THE LARGER TREND 

Stakeholders are turning their sights to voice technology. Among the new players are pharma and providers.

But industry stakeholders are still trying to figure out how to fit the tech into practice and understand the technology’s place in healthcare. 

“Consumers are enthusiastic about the potential of these new technologies and we hope the data helps healthcare organizations better understand the market and make decisions about how they can leverage voice assistants to enhance patient engagement,” Bret Kinsella, Voicebot.ai founder and CEO, said in a statement. 

However, the industry still has a number of questions around privacy and security that players are exploring for the future. 

“The biggest challenges are: Ensuring end-to-end compliance with data privacy and security requirements (both government and corporate) like HIPAA; authenticating the user (confirming that they are who they say they are) through a voice interface, especially in shared spaces; authorizing the user (confirming they have access to data or systems necessary to support the use case),” Treloar said.