The most important technology to hit healthcare? Humana Chief Digital Health & Analytics Officer says AI

Heather Cox, Chief Digital Health and Analytics Officer of Humana, shares her thoughts on voice recognition and innovation in the healthcare ecosystem.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: Where do you see the biggest need for innovation to improve the healthcare system in the future?

Heather Cox: In healthcare today, there are multiple points of opportunity for innovation. If you look at the current startup landscape, you can see the entire value chain — across provider, payer and every part of the health ecosystem —trying to innovate right now. Clearly, this signals that there are opportunities for advancement in healthcare.

Tied to innovation, Humana is focusing its efforts in three areas: the consumer experience and bringing transparency to their processes, the provider experience and making their life simpler, while at the same time making it easier to serve their patients and our members, and in-home care delivery.

It is important to note that at Humana, when we talk about innovation in the healthcare system, we mean the entire ecosystem from hospitals and doctors to patients and consumers. We're not limiting the improvements we think we can make.

Q: How do you feel about the use of voice recognition technology, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, in healthcare? Is there a place for its use within the EHR?

HC: The future of voice is strong, particularly when we think about in-home care delivery. I also believe voice will play a key role within EHR. Consider this: A doctor and a patient are having a conversation, and through a wearable device that contains Alexa or Google Assistant, the voice print from the conversation is captured directly into the notes. That would be very powerful.

Q: What advice would you offer to hospital executives looking to improve physician happiness when it comes to the EHR?

HC: Mobile, wearables and voice. And it cannot be template driven. Healthcare is a dynamic process, and if the tools we provide are going to be effective and useful, they must be customized.

Q: Which apps and technologies do you find most helpful, and which do you think will be passing fads?

HC: Artificial intelligence is absolutely the most important technology to hit this industry. And it will have the most dramatic impact on how we consume and deliver healthcare.

Tied to apps, the reality is, I do not have an affinity for any individual app. I say this because individual apps are not as important as the overall concept of what AI can do to improve consumption and delivery of healthcare.

Passing fads are interesting to think about. The truth is things in healthcare are in such a learning mode right now that I can't really want to comment on what will pass. All the various technologies, even if they don't last, are teaching us something in the moment. And these learnings will inform the next great iteration. There is value in trying, testing and learning your way into the next great answer.

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