Physician viewpoint: Medical voice assistants haven't yet proven merit


Medical voice recognition technologies have the potential to automate some administrative processes for healthcare providers, but they haven't yet demonstrated a significant effect, The New York Times reported April 13.

Medical voice recognition technologies are designed with the intention of freeing up healthcare workers' time. Such examples include tools designed to automate insurance authorizations, send personalized text messages to patients, handle billing, order medical tests and record physician-patient interactions so that relevant information can be recorded in medical files.

Dhruv Khullar, MD, a physician and assistant professor of health policy and economics at New York City-based Weill Cornell Medicine, told the Times he is optimistic about the voice technology's potential to reduce administrative burdens, but he has not seen substantial proof that the tools are lightening workloads. 

"There is not a lot of evidence at this point that [artificial intelligence] reduces costs or improves health outcomes,” Dr. Khullar said.

Dr. Khullar's remarks come after Microsoft announced April 12 it will buy speech recognition company Nuance Communications for nearly $20 billion. Microsoft said Nuance's technology will be used to expand its healthcare offerings for its cloud products.

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