Gartner Maverick Research reports that in the coming decade, virtual personal health assistants (VPHA) will become the source of primary care given to patients. The prediction given by Gartner at the Gartner Symposium/IT Expo, states that by 2025 at least 50% of all primary care will be via VPHAs. This increase is attributable to VPHAs being shown as more responsive and accurate than human health assistants.
“They (VHPAs) are better at processing all the determinants of health and well-being than even the best of doctors," says Laura Craft, research director of Gartner. Craft also adds that technology has progressed to be more efficient for primary healthcare and has been shown to even surpass the human mind. With the high demand for medical attention, the amount of physicians is limited which according to Craft is “begging the need for alternatives”.
There has been a growing movement in using technology to monitor health and is catching on with the younger tech-savvy generation. VHPAs will serve to not only gather medical data but to also give advice and wellness recommendations using the patient’s personal and health information. This is to create lifestyle changes and reduce the amount of time people go to the physician. However, these machines will not completely replace trained physicians. Craft states that they still "will be needed to care for the chronically ill, the elderly, and special needs patients”.
With the shift to smart machines and VPHAs as medical care providers, there will be some challenges that will need to be addressed. For instance, what will constitute medical malpractice once the care is given by machines powered by algorithms instead of human judgment. Also, regulation of these new devices are necessary and approval must be given by professionals before placing them on the market. Overall, it is predicted that the shift to technology for primary care, will result in lower costs, easier access and improved quality.