Examining voice tech’s potential in healthcare

Open Innovation, Health

by Elizabeth Bowling

As voice technology becomes a bigger part of our daily lives, will we see it move beyond managing our playlists to managing our health? Over the past few months, we’ve been approaching that question from several different angles. We listened to five finalists pitch their solutions at the Alexa Diabetes Challenge Demo Day last month, and followed it up by hosting a Lab Session with experts who talked with us about the realities of voice tech in healthcare.

Voice solutions to support chronic conditions

When the Alexa Diabetes Challenge launched in April, it called on innovators to develop voice-enabled solutions to support those newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The multi-stage challenge, sponsored by Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, New Jersey, U.S.A. was supported by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and powered by Luminary Labs. It yielded innovative ideas for addressing different aspects of the patient experience — from providing personalized information and logging data to connecting with providers and detecting co-morbidities such as depression and foot conditions.

Five finalists took the stage at the AWS Pop-up Loft last month to present their concepts in front of nearly 200 leaders in technology, diabetes, and healthcare to see the first instances of voice technology being used to support diabetes management.

A panel of expert judges selected Sugarpod by Wellpepper to win the $125,000 grand prize. Sugarpod is a comprehensive diabetes care plan solution that includes an Alexa-enabled scale and foot scanner to monitor foot problems. It provides tailored tasks based on patient preferences delivered via SMS, email, web, and a mobile application — and one day, through voice interfaces as well.

“Sugarpod helps newly diagnosed people with type 2 diabetes integrate new information and routines into the fabric of their daily lives to self-manage, connect to care, and avoid complications. The Challenge showed us the appeal of voice solutions for patients and clinical value of early detection with home-based solutions,” said Anne Weiler, co-founder and CEO of Wellpepper.

Inspiring larger conversations about voice tech and health

Wellpepper was in Boston this week for the Connected Health Conference, where the industry discussed how voice technology can assist patient management of chronic disease and promote healthy lifestyles. Anne joined Memory Lane’s Andy Kropa , McGuire VA Medical Center’s Melissa Oliver, and Orbita’s Nathan Treloar for a panel discussion on voice technology’s applications in healthcare.

Keeping an eye on voice

Voice tech is on the cusp of compliance and technology companies are working to catch up to regulatory concerns. We are sussing out the potential benefits and critical challenges of introducing this emerging technology to organizations, industries, and each of our lives.

Prepare for a voice-first future with our reading list and explore how voice may change entire industries. If your industry happens to be healthcare, our top takeaways from last month’s Lab Session will shed some light on the current state of voice tech and health.


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