Virtual assistants expected to drastically change health care by 2018

By BenefitsPro

By Amanda McGrory-Dixon

Over the next five years, 80 percent of physicians believe virtual assistants will drastically change patient interaction, electronic health records and other health care apps, which would allow physicians to spend more time with patients, according to a recent survey by Nuance Communications Inc.

In fact, one out of three respondents spends at least 30 percent of his or her day on administrative tasks. With a voice-enabled virtual assistant, this could be better managed or eliminated.

Additionally, 65 percent of respondents say the primary role of a virtual assistant is to provide more accurate, timely information for care as well as alert doctors of missing information in records. Another 73 percent of respondents say patient engagement could improve through a virtual assistant as it helps coordinate care between multiple caregivers, and 80 percent of respondents say a virtual assistant can help patients follow health advice and change behaviors.

“Mobile virtual assistants have the potential to reinvent the way we deliver patient care,” says Dr. Alireza Shafaie of Palo Alto Medical Foundation. “As a consumer, I already experience the value of mobile assistants and would love to bring that natural, intelligence-based dialogue to my work as a primary care physician. For every one patient I see, I have to communicate my recommendations in three different places. A mobile adviser that could do that on my behalf in one shot would give me back more time in what truly matters – time with my patients.”

Respondents report being especially interested in voice-driven, computerized physician order entry using better reasoning for ordering medications, labs and radiology exams beyond speech. By embedding a virtual assistant directly into any clinical app, it can improve upon many of the existing workflows.

Originally published by