Hello Siri: Are you good enough to keep me healthy?

Shira Ovide for NYT:

The big hope of technology in medicine is that it can help make us healthier and improve America’s expensive and often ineffective and unjust health care system. The message that I have heard from medical experts is that there’s potential there, but there is also a lot of hot air.

Nuance and other tech and health care providers want to do much more with our voices. One idea is that microphones might record (with permission) interactions between physicians and patients and log the relevant details into medical files — without much human involvement. Computers would also be smart enough to order any necessary tests and handle billing.

I am not sure if the promise of mundane tasks will be taken over by the “intelligent assistants”. Microsoft paid a pretty penny for acquiring Nuance which has a major share of medical transcription. Of course, the news focused on how Microsoft will deploy its Azure platform. Those in the know laughed it out- they will likely offer a subscription and utilise the “deep integration” of enterprises (aka tentacles) to extract more money.

Azure again remains an also-ran though it is introduced as a “market-leader”. I am not a big fan of Microsoft for their coercive actions against open source and attempts to stymie spread of better alternatives than their core products. Besides, it has a pincer grip on the telemetry data in both enterprises and “personal space”. Therefore, any acquisition points to their own failure to make Cortana any worthwhile. I think it represents a massive loss of opportunity as a digital assistant and has been a stupendous waste of effort.

Voice, though, is an important market for healthcare- I’ll be focused on the “emotional and sentiment analysis” more than the multi-billion dollar acquisitions.