|But as these new healthcare consumerism technologies come into play, how can healthcare marketers prepare for the demands?|
In April 2019, Amazon announced their voice search partnership with six healthcare brands to deliver Alexa voice assistant skills aimed to help patients and users with their healthcare needs. However, this wasn’t a shock to those who knew about the pilot program Amazon had initiated.
Take the Cedars-Sinai pilot in Los Angeles, CA. for starters. Cedars-Sinai placed Amazon Echo smart speakers in more than 100 patient rooms, and using a healthcare-specific voice assistant called Aiva, provided an easy way for patients to control their room and request help, from changing the TV channel to requesting medicine.
Now, with the HIPAA skills rollout, other organizations are taking advantage of the opportunity to use artificial intelligence (AI) in new ways. Today, Amazon Alexa’s healthcare partners include:
- Cigna Health: Cigna Health employees can manage their health improvement goals, increasing opportunities for wellness incentives.
- Express Scripts: Allows patients to ask for notifications on refills and mail-order prescriptions.
- Boston Children’s Hospital: Parents can provide their child’s care teams with updates on their child’s recuperation and get more information for post-operative appointments.
- Swedish Health Connect and Atrium Health: Allows consumers to find urgent care centers near them and schedule same-day appointments.
- Livongo: Members can ask for their latest blood sugar reading and trends, with personalized insights.
What does voice assistance mean for healthcare?
It’s hard to know exactly what the actual adoption will be for healthcare organizations or healthcare consumers. In terms of voice search, we know that user-focused, SEO-friendly content still reigns supreme whether a user relies on a smartphone, desktop keyboard, or voice search.
Experts see opportunity for voice assistants to help do some heavy lifting such as appointment scheduling, caregiver assistance, and helping free up nursing staff’s time by letting patients be more in control of their room and environment. As the trend shifts and grows, experts also see additional opportunity to deliver healthcare options to lower income homes and communities.
But despite the promises of success around voice assistance, privacy is still a chief concern, and rightly so. With news that Amazon employees are listening to thousands of conversations from smart speakers every day, it may take time for users to trust this innovation. According to Tech Crunch, “Consumers will need to understand how Amazon is securing their data before they feel comfortable using health and medical skills.”
Of course, this is all speculation. In the realm of technology, voice assistants are still in their infancy.
In any case, it’s good for healthcare marketers to keep an eye on AI trends and how they could work with their digital brand experience.
Chatbots in the healthcare marketplace
Another way healthcare is adapting to the pivoting needs of their growing digital audience is by employing chatbots. You’ve likely encountered them on other consumer websites you visit, from online banking to cable or phone companies.
And healthcare organizations are taking note for how this could assist healthcare consumers on the other side of the screen.
Adventist HealthCare, based in Gaithersburg, MD, offers a chatbot in the lower right corner of their website, asking, “Hi there! Welcome to Adventist HealthCare. Can I help answer something for you?”
With options like “find a doctor” and “urgent care online reservations” users can quickly accomplish tasks without navigating through the site. The bot can also help decipher text from visitors, directing them to the information that fits best with their needs, or recommending access to customer service teams.
Types and benefits of chatbots
Like voice assistants, chatbots are still young in the healthcare marketplace, but their growth is expected to climb radically in the next several years. According to Gartner, by 2020, nearly 50% of medium- to large-sized corporations will incorporate chatbots into their digital strategies. On the consumer side, nearly 85% of online interactions between consumers and brands will be non-human by that time, too.
If your organization is considering adding a chatbot, it’s important to keep it conversational, friendly, and valuable to the user. It’s also helpful to consider your internal resources to determine what type of chatbot you’d like to add, such as:
- Immediate connection – Makes content easier to find for users with only one click, similar to the Adventist Healthcare example.
- Deep search – A quick way to get an answer returned from a repository of information.
- Complex conversation – One that understands complex conversations from your users, providing conversion opportunities.
- Real-person-powered – A real-life customer-facing team member responds to users to help them get answers to questions or locations on the website.
This easy connection between consumers and brands has an opportunity to streamline your customer service, save money, and deliver a positive brand experience. They can also be available 24/7, so if a patient needs your help in the middle of the night, a deep search chatbot, for example, can direct them to information that could help.
Other AI-powered players
But voice assistants and chatbots aren’t the only forms of artificial intelligence, or AI, that are finding a home in healthcare. A few others are on the horizon as well, all with the goal of connecting patients and healthcare consumers with the tasks and information they need right now:
- Duplex – Google’s newest AI voice assistant ramped up the abilities to book appointments directly from search results – from restaurant reservations to hair salon visits – in 2018. Google continues exploring Duplex’s capabilities.
- Holly – an AI voice assistant by Nimblr that can help automate medical practices’ appointment cycles and reduce no-show patients – a problem costing the healthcare industry up to $150 billion per year. Nimblr’s Holly will integrate with Amazon’s Alexa, too, so Amazon Echo users can access this new skill.
- Smartphone chatbots — AI-led chatbots align user symptoms with potential conditions and recommendations for seeing a doctor. Samsung Health, for example, released this tool released in 2018 and comes built-in with all Samsung phones. It aligns closely with Google’s condition panel, which was released in 2015.
Stay ahead of the curve
Change comes in all forms when it comes to digital. As you evaluate what’s right for your organization, keep an eye on the healthcare industry and how major players and competitors are adding technology that influences the patient experience.
Don’t feel compelled to jump into these technologies without some careful consideration among your team and resources, but don’t be scared to test out new ideas either.
If you want to discuss what kind of new technology out there might help you connect and engage with patients and potential patients, contact Geonetric today.