Is it Good to Use Voice Assistants for Health?

Voice assistants for healthcare have become a useful tool to improve a person's quality of life. What are their advantages and disadvantages? Find out!
Is it Good to Use Voice Assistants for Health?

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 18 July, 2022

Voice assistants are a technological contribution with immense value. Their simplicity and accessibility make them available to millions of users around the world. They also have the potential to make an extraordinary contribution to healthcare.

One of the most interesting aspects of voice assistants is that they all provide a telecare service for the elderly. This is very useful, as it contributes to improving their quality of life.

However, this is a technology that still faces major challenges. Can the information they provide be trusted at all? Do they have any disadvantages? We’ll answer these questions below.

What are voice assistants?

Voice assistants are devices that are present in smartphones. They’re also found in tablets or speakers, and can be mimicked in any decorative object in the home.

As the name suggests, they’re voice-controlled. It’s only necessary for the user to say a keyword to activate them. In this way, they respond to any request, whether it’s to obtain information or to give instructions to perform an action.

An Internet connection is required for their operation. Thus, it’s possible to solve any kind of doubt, from the weather to the best way to organize a diet. They can also be used to control objects such as the television, light bulbs, heating, etc.

Voice assistants for health

There are currently several voice assistants. These include Google’s, Amazon’s (Alexa) and Apple’s (Siri). They’re activated, respectively, with keywords such as “OK Google”, “Alexa” or “Hey Siri”. Both Google’s and Alexa’s have various functionalities associated with health.

The most interesting thing? They can be downloaded for free. They offer a variety of information, such as tips for physical activity and possible diagnoses. In particular, their most prominent health-related functions are as follows:

  • Mediktor: This offers an approximate diagnosis of what a person may have, based on questions and answers. It serves as an orientation, but in no case replaces a medical consultation.
  • Nagusi Bot: This is a service aimed specifically at the elderly. It helps them to overcome common problems, both physical and psychosocial.
  • Aiva: This is experimental and is used by hospitalized people to communicate with health personnel or to carry out activities such as turning on the television, etc. It doesn’t require prior learning.
Asistentes de voz para la salud

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The advantages of using voice assistants for health

The use of voice assistants for health has interesting benefits. They’re easy to use, fast, and convenient. They’re very appropriate for a person who is ill or has limitations due to age or other conditions. Let’s take a look at their most outstanding advantages.

No prior learning is required

Voice assistants are very easy to use and therefore don’t require training to use them. It’s enough to speak to them, ask them something, or give them a command to obtain an answer. They can be used from the first moment, without any problem. They’re ideal for people who aren’t very familiar with new technologies.

They feature automatic learning

Voice assistants are equipped with the necessary features so that they also learn from the person using them. The more they’re used, the more accurate the results they offer the user. They also recognize the person’s way of speaking. In short, they improve their functionality as they are used.

They allow for voice communication

The fact that they only require voice interaction makes them very versatile. There’s no need to touch anything and no need to perform any process. You just talk to them. This is great for people who are visually impaired or have limited mobility. It’s also great for those who aren’t used to using technological devices.

They provide unlimited information

Voice devices are an infinite source of information. They make available all the data found on the Internet. In addition, they offer a very fast response. All you have to do is ask them, and in a few seconds, you’ll get answers to your questions.

Voice assistants are useful in emergencies

They also offer the possibility of making an emergency call. In case of an accident or need for assistance, it’s enough to order them to communicate with the emergency service or a family member to make the call. This is invaluable in dangerous situations.

They improve mental health

One of the most striking aspects of voice devices is that they help to improve mental health. A study conducted by the Universitat Pompeu Fabra indicated that this technology was useful in motivating users to evolve and feel greater personal satisfaction.

In fact, it helped to reduce several negative emotions such as fear, guilt, disgust or nervousness. It also promoted the practice of healthy habits and strategies to achieve personal goals.

Interaction with healthcare personnel

Voice assistants have been developing functions aimed at facilitating communication between the patient and the physician. In many cases, it’s possible to request a medical appointment or send relevant data obtained during consultations. Interaction in the inpatient setting is also advancing.

Possible disadvantages of voice assistants for healthcare

Although voice assistants represent a major advance and provide invaluable services, they’re not without their disadvantages. One in particular deserves special attention. According to research published in the Annals of Family Medicine, these devices don’t always provide quality information.

Although they have the capacity to collect a wide range of information, they don’t know how to discriminate between information that is of the highest quality and that which is unreliable. On the other hand, it has been found that they don’t always offer sufficient help in some cases, such as suicide attempts.

In addition, they tend to represent a form of invasion of privacy, since they listen to data that are then used for commercial purposes.

Asistentes de voz móviles

Like this article? You may also like to read: Four Negative Effects of Cell Phone Use That You Did Not Know

Final recommendations

Voice assistants for healthcare are here to stay. It’s only natural that they will continue to develop and provide better and better service. It’s very likely that in the not-too-distant future, they will be integrated with healthcare and will allow for more efficient follow-up of treatments.

It’s only a matter of time before they begin to offer more personalized care. Their technology will surely improve over time to ensure more reliable information and to become a continuous source of data about our health status.

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