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Building a Voice in Voice Technology: How To Get Started
January 23, 2018 |

Voice technology is on the rise in healthcare, but many providers are still on the fence and wondering if voice is worth the investment. There are many questions that come up when considering an investment in voice: What do you need to get started? How do you begin structuring your current site content for voice? What sort of lift is required and who do you need on your team?

There are a few fundamental questions that can help you determine if voice technology is right for your healthcare organization and where to begin.

First of all, why should I consider voice technology for my healthcare organization?

There are already 45 million voice-enabled devices in the US, with that number expected to grow to 65 million over the next 12 months.

Needless to say, the proliferation and use of voice-enabled assistants and devices will make 2018 the year voice goes from being a curiosity to something healthcare marketers need to roadmap, budget for, and implement.

Today’s patients expect their providers to be there for them whenever and wherever they are. Voice technology allows you to interact with patients at home, at work, or on vacation seamlessly and empathetically.

Click here to read about the current healthcare voice technology landscape.

How do I know if we’re ready to invest in voice?

Do you have organizational commitment to bettering the patient experience? Are you eager to more deeply engage with millennials, families, and those with disabilities? Then you’re ready to consider voice.

Voice is not all together different than what existing health systems are already doing with web and mobile, it is just another channel. However it is a channel that absolutely requires cross organization collaboration. Marketing, IT, design, UX, copy, brand (and others) need to work collaboratively to use voice to better the patient experience.

What are the 3 keys to creating an appealing brand voice?

Know what you are trying to achieve.

All conversations via voice technology have an end goal, whether it’s discovering symptoms, finding the nearest doctor, scheduling an appointment, checking wait times or paying a bill. Your aim should be to provide patients with answers and satisfy their end goal in as few interactions as possible.

Keep it simple.

Avoid flowery language, needless informality, and jargon. While it can be tempting to throw in some different speech elements to stand out from your competitors, the truth is that patients are looking for voice technology that is easy to use, to the point, and empathetic to their needs. If you try to dress it up you risk alienating your audience.


One of the great things about voice technology is the ability to ask for feedback and track usage. Over time as you gather input and fine tune your platform you will be able to deliver a voice that truly resonates with your patients and amplifies your brand.

How do I get started processing my current content into a voice-friendly structure?

It’s important to remember that voice is about so much more than just content, it is an extension of the brand conversation.

Once you’ve established goals for your voice conversations (setting appointments, checking wait times, etc.), you can begin to build the storylines that your voice app will follow. This will help you target collections of existing content that need to be enhanced for voice.

A good place to start when building your storylines in healthcare is by analyzing the most common conversations and pain points from your call center or chatbot data.

Next you will need to spend some time previewing your content on the target voice platforms. Previewing will give you a feel for how well your content is pronounced and paced.

Post preview, you may need to develop a lexicon for your content. This essentially becomes a set of suggestions, modifications, and alterations to your content to ensure the targeted voice platforms can read your content in a way that is pleasing to your customers and consistent with your brand.

There are some standard ways to provide a lexicon to your voice applications, using Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) and the Pronunciation Lexicon Specification (PLS) as examples.


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How big of a lift is structuring content for voice, and what sort of team will I need?

How long will it take?

This depends on how many storylines you plan to have and how elaborate they will be. A general rule though is to start small, release, and iterate and extend over time. Voice is no different than all digital properties today. It cannot be created once, released, and forgotten about. Your constantly evolving brand conversation is happening across all digital properties and you need to evolve with your customers.  

Depending on the functionality, you can expect to release in anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. In general it’s best to opt for smaller, quicker releases to get to market faster, and then focus on iterating to provide even more functionality and improve the patient experience.

What knowledge or skills do I need on my team?

Just like with other initiatives, you can either hire the team internally or outsource to trusted partners. For the best long term results, think of what other digital products need (and these voice apps often should be a part of a more broad digital transformation). Think about skills like those of product managers, creative, UX, copy editors, and engineers.

What is the risk of not investing in voice?

If you put off investing in voice technology your risk falling behind your competitors. Of course patients care about quality healthcare, but they also expect more opportunities for cross-platform, omni-channel digital experiences, and sooner or later they will move on from your healthcare system if they find your competitors are offering a better, more convenient experience.

Do you have any examples of healthcare organizations who are doing voice right?

Listen to this podcast to learn how the digital marketing team at Northwell Health took their first step into voice assistants, harnessing the power of Amazon’s Alexa platform to better engage their patients and transform the digital patient experience.

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Ready to start building your voice in voice technology? Reach out to us to talk about first steps and best practices.

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