Research Topic

Voice Technology and Conversational Agents in Health Care Delivery

About this Research Topic

Conversational agents (CA) are artificial intelligence (AI) driven applications that can process naturalist text and speech to deliver personalized interactions with users, i.e. chatbots, voice assistants, embodied conversational agents, virtual assistants and interactive voice recognition systems (IVRS).

The range of applications for CA within healthcare is growing, for both patient and healthcare providers facing applications. CA can use speech recognition, natural language processing and machine learning to understand, react and learn from each interaction. The system does not just log answers but learns from each of them to generate better insights. As a subset of CA, the use of voice technology is growing and has become particularly common due to the growth in smart speakers and voice assistants on mobile phones. Voice technologies are not only a convenient interaction modality but also able to communicate important information about a person’s health. Voice biomarkers are a promising field which helps to detect health and wellness symptoms through voice samples or human sounds.

Self-reported (active) and passive data collected in real world settings can be used to promote assistance to personal healthcare. CA provide the opportunity to develop new approaches for interactions, that can be delivered in a more non-intrusive and naturalistic way to enhance health decision making. CA-based systems are able to combine large amounts of data collected over time about a person’s health status. This approach has the potential to not only improve diagnosis but predict exacerbations reducing adverse effects on the patient.

The goal of this Research Topic is to bring together the research on the variety of applications of CA, including chatbots, voice assistants, virtual assistants and voice based healthcare applications. We are particularly interested in exploring the evidence to support such applications in existing healthcare practice, whether it is an improvement in health outcomes or delivery of services. Studies may focus on a variety of stakeholders, such as, adults, older adults, pediatrics, healthcare providers, payers and healthcare administrators.

We particularly encourage authors using voice-interface CA or voice assistants in their research.

Some of the example topics (not limited to):
● Innovative applications of CA or voice assistants to improve diagnosis, access to healthcare or self-manage medical conditions.
● Description and illustration of user centered designs for CA in the healthcare industry.
● Studies on acceptability of and trust in CA in healthcare
● Protocols and validation studies demonstrating the equivalency and/or efficacy of CA systems to traditional care pathways
● Ethics in development and implementation of CA in healthcare; addressing the technical and regulatory challenges.
● Economics and financial impact of CA on patients, caregivers, providers and the health system

Topic Editor Dr. Shona D'Arcy is the founder and CEO of Kids Speech Labs, a technology company developing children’s speech development solutions. All other Topic Editors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


Keywords: conversational agents, artificial intelligence, AI in healthcare, virtual assistants, interactive voice recognition system


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Conversational agents (CA) are artificial intelligence (AI) driven applications that can process naturalist text and speech to deliver personalized interactions with users, i.e. chatbots, voice assistants, embodied conversational agents, virtual assistants and interactive voice recognition systems (IVRS).

The range of applications for CA within healthcare is growing, for both patient and healthcare providers facing applications. CA can use speech recognition, natural language processing and machine learning to understand, react and learn from each interaction. The system does not just log answers but learns from each of them to generate better insights. As a subset of CA, the use of voice technology is growing and has become particularly common due to the growth in smart speakers and voice assistants on mobile phones. Voice technologies are not only a convenient interaction modality but also able to communicate important information about a person’s health. Voice biomarkers are a promising field which helps to detect health and wellness symptoms through voice samples or human sounds.

Self-reported (active) and passive data collected in real world settings can be used to promote assistance to personal healthcare. CA provide the opportunity to develop new approaches for interactions, that can be delivered in a more non-intrusive and naturalistic way to enhance health decision making. CA-based systems are able to combine large amounts of data collected over time about a person’s health status. This approach has the potential to not only improve diagnosis but predict exacerbations reducing adverse effects on the patient.

The goal of this Research Topic is to bring together the research on the variety of applications of CA, including chatbots, voice assistants, virtual assistants and voice based healthcare applications. We are particularly interested in exploring the evidence to support such applications in existing healthcare practice, whether it is an improvement in health outcomes or delivery of services. Studies may focus on a variety of stakeholders, such as, adults, older adults, pediatrics, healthcare providers, payers and healthcare administrators.

We particularly encourage authors using voice-interface CA or voice assistants in their research.

Some of the example topics (not limited to):
● Innovative applications of CA or voice assistants to improve diagnosis, access to healthcare or self-manage medical conditions.
● Description and illustration of user centered designs for CA in the healthcare industry.
● Studies on acceptability of and trust in CA in healthcare
● Protocols and validation studies demonstrating the equivalency and/or efficacy of CA systems to traditional care pathways
● Ethics in development and implementation of CA in healthcare; addressing the technical and regulatory challenges.
● Economics and financial impact of CA on patients, caregivers, providers and the health system

Topic Editor Dr. Shona D'Arcy is the founder and CEO of Kids Speech Labs, a technology company developing children’s speech development solutions. All other Topic Editors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


Keywords: conversational agents, artificial intelligence, AI in healthcare, virtual assistants, interactive voice recognition system


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

13 December 2020 Abstract
12 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

13 December 2020 Abstract
12 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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