Voice assistant technology in clinical trials.

According to a recent report from Juniper Research, it is predicted that some kind of voice assistant device will make its way into 55% of US households by 2022. With that in mind, it seems a logical step for voice assistant technologies, such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa, to break into the clinical trial arena. In fact, a few pharmaceuticals companies have already begun testing this out. Let’s look at how voice assistant devices could soon change the way we manage clinical trials.

Compliance.
“Alexa, when do I need to take my medication?”
Voice assistant technology can provide another tool to encourage compliance when it comes to clinical trials. Imagine Alexa assisting patients with any tasks they need to complete – from reminding them when it’s time to take their medicine, to facilitating a verbal diary entry. Sure, one can argue that we already have our mobile phones for reminders and for scouring the internet. But consider that voice assistant devices can take the experience a step further, accurately retrieving and entering information, while also learning a patient’s needs and preferences. This makes the patient experience more enjoyable, ultimately leading to engagement and compliance.

Support.
“Google, can you tell me again how this research can help me?”
A voice assistant device can be a patient companion throughout the clinical trial journey, providing guidance and answers to any trial-related questions. This is a powerful use of the tool, as it allows the patient to experience a level of at-home support that has not previously been possible.

Recruitment.
“Alexa, I want to take the survey for that clinical trial.”
It is not out of the realm of possibility for Alexa to become another channel or entry point for an individual to research a clinical trial in which to participate. As voice assistant technology offers a new avenue to engage individuals in an organic, easy way, a patient could potentially take a pre-screener survey by simply talking to Alexa, never needing to navigate to a website.  Additionally, companies like Google and Amazon are looking into bringing ads to their voice assistants. If they proceed with this, it could provide yet another channel for clinical trial recruitment.

Treatment.
“Google, can you fix me?”
Could a voice assistant device soon be used as treatment for certain conditions? It may be uncharted territory right now, but think of it this way: if a patient is dealing with depression, Alexa or Google Home could provide companionship and guidance to help that patient through a difficult time. With artificial intelligence moving into emotion recognition, we have already seen apps that can empathize and communicate with humans based on emotions. Voice assistant technology holds promise to one day be part of the cure.

I do not have any doubts that voice assistant devices will become another technological staple in our lives in the near future. For that reason, it is important for pharma companies to continue exploring how to use this technology today and beyond. It is a brave new world, indeed.

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