Physician Views: Do voice technologies have the ear of clinicians yet?

The inexorable spread of artificial intelligence in healthcare could accelerate the use of voice technologies in enabling diagnosis and management of myriad diseases and increasing patient engagement in their own health. A proliferation of research groups are looking into the use of AI to analyse speech for detecting conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, neurological disorders, among other things.


But are physicians on board with this new class of digitally-enabled technologies? Smartspeakers and virtual voice-activated assistants like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa are becoming more ubiquitous in people’s homes but what is the level of awareness or usage of voice technologies among the clinical community?


We conducted a snap-poll of general practitioners and primary care physicians to gauge how receptive the clinical community would be to these new tools that could disrupt the healthcare paradigm.


Our questions are as follow:


Q1: Do you use a voice-activated smart speaker like Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa at home and/or in your clinical practice?




Q2: How often do you interact with/use your smart speaker?




Q3: What do you use your smart speaker for?




Q4: Amazon’s Alexa has been HIPAA-compliant since April this year, and the device is considered safe for managing protected health information. This allows patients to use the device for things like accessing their medical information like blood glucose readings, trends and insights, booking medical appoints, checking prescription delivery etc.  

What impact do you think these additional services will have on your practice?




Q5: A start-up called Sonde Health recently got $16 million in funding from investors including Merck KGaA and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma to develop its voice-based diagnostic platform. The technology is designed to recognise vocal biomarkers from seconds of speech that correlate to underlying changes impacting mental and physiological health. The company is looking to integrate this voice-diagnostic capability, for different diseases, into existing smartphones and smartspeakers, as well as to specific health devices.

How would you rate the utility of a smartphone or smart speaker that could help diagnose diseases?



Results and related analysis will shortly be published for FirstWord MedTech PLUS subscribers to read, with the opportunity for non-FirstWord MedTech PLUS subscribers to purchase these findings. If you want to be notified when the poll results and analysis become available, please click here.


As always, FirstWord would very much like to receive your feedback and suggestions.


Note: FirstWord Physician Views is a fast-turnaround service to conduct instant polls of up to five questions with guaranteed samples that include physicians from dozens of specialties in major markets. To conduct this poll with a different audience, or an entirely different poll, contact


Disclaimer: FirstWord follows market research best practices in conducting its Physician Views polls.  However, Physician Views results should be considered directional and clients should use their market research resources for statistical analysis and conclusions required with very high confidence levels.

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