2018 will be the year when voice computing makes itself heard as a communications channel to be reckoned with, not least in healthcare. It’s not just us saying this, the chief technology officer of amazon.com has name-checked Inhealthcare in a thought leadership piece about the growing power of the spoken word in digital communications.
In an article for the influential Wired publication, Werner Vogels predicted that voice computing will become our primary interface for engaging with technology and the world around us. The citation of Inhealthcare by one of the foremost technologists in the world highlights the progress we have made as a pioneer in digital health services that are both innovative and accessible.
Vogels is reported to be the only person other than founder Jeff Bezos who is permitted to speak publicly on behalf of amazon.com.
“For years we have interacted with machines the way they have dictated, by touch – using a keyboard, screen or mouse,” he writes. “But this is not the natural way for humans to communicate. As humans, we prefer voice. In 2018, we’ll see more machines communicate the way humans do, with the potential for technology to become more ingrained into our lives than ever. We’re at the beginning of a voice-fuelled technology transformation where new types of devices and services, such as the Echo and Alexa, allow us to communicate more naturally. They are being embedded into everything from cars to home automation services to the factory floor.”
Vogels warned that while the potential of voice computing is limitless, it is important to remember those who have never been exposed to computers and smartphones. He said the biggest challenge of voice-based systems is making them as natural as possible, especially with audiences from developing nations or older generations who are less tech savvy.
Using Inhealthcare as an example, he highlighted the company use of automated telephony as one of its communication channels to deploy digital health services at scale. Vogels said the telephone is a piece of technology that many older people feel comfortable and confident using and nearly everyone can access it, even if they don’t have a computer or smartphone.
Inhealthcare uses Amazon Polly to deliver medication reminders, health advice and help with treatment. Patients can have a natural conversation and feel comfortable with the advice they receive, Vogels added.
He said: “This is just the beginning of what’s possible. We’ll see more intelligent services learn not only to talk with us but begin to recognise emotion, learn to engage and have meaningful conversations. In 2018 it’s likely that talking could supersede typing.”
Our digital health platform allows patients to receive more care at home so we need to offer all communication channels. If computers and smartphones aren’t right for the patient, synthesised voice over a telephone usually is. Feedback from users is very positive and they enjoy the process.
Late last year, Inhealthcare joined Amazon Web Services Partner Network, a global programme providing business, technical, sales and marketing resources for members.