Using Voice Assistants for the Management of Chronic Diseases: is it possible?
Voice assistants (VAs) are increasingly, ubiquitous and accessible in multiple contexts. But can we use them to provide a scalable solution to deliver digital health-interventions?
The heterogeneity in research methods used to develop and evaluate voice assistants for health clashes with the demand for more frequent and transparent dissemination of research findings. In particular, voice assistants’ efficacy needs to be evaluated both in absolute terms and in comparison to standard healthcare. Only then, research will be able to show when and how voice assistants are a viable if not advantageous solution for the management of chronic and mental health conditions.
On the side of off-the-shelf options, commercial voice assistants such as Apple Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, can already respond to questions related to the management of chronic diseases. We observe that Google seems to be the most capable of responding with sources of information that are non-biased and evidence-based. However, this is not always the case. We would urge health organizations to collaborate with VA developers such as Google, Amazon, and Apple to make sure their voice assistants can consistently provide users suffering from chronic diseases with reliable answers.
Bérubé, C., Schachner, T., Keller, R., Fleisch, E., v Wangenheim, F., Barata, F., & Kowatsch, T. (2021). Voice-Based Conversational Agents for the Prevention and Management of Chronic and Mental Health Conditions: Systematic Literature Review. Journal of medical Internet research, 23(3), e25933.
Bérubé, C., Kovacs Z.F., Fleisch E., Kowatsch T. (2021). Reliability of Commercial Voice Assistants’ Responses to Health-related Questions in Noncommunicable Disease Management: Factorial Experiment Assessing Response Rate and Source of Information. Journal of medical Internet research, 23 (12), e32161.