Voice-enabled technology like Amazon Alexa’s Echo and Dot, and Google’s Home, are making virtual assistants a reality and giving consumers another way to access information, connect with brands, and track their own lives.
The use of voice is more than just a passing fad. By 2018, Gartner predicts 30% of all interactions with technology will be conducted via voice, and by 2020 50% of all searches will be voice searches, according to Comscore.
With such rapid and widespread uptake, voice technologies offer a multitude of opportunities for health systems to better market themselves and engage with their patients.
Here are a few examples of innovative ways that healthcare digital marketing can harness the power of voice-enabled technology to better engage their patients and transform the digital patient experience:
Health information from your own experts. According to a recent article on Forbes, at least one-third of people living in the U.S. now routinely use symptom checkers for both routine and urgent conditions, including chest pain. Patients are now turning to the internet to answer everything from simple medical questions to deeper research into their ailments. This is an opportunity to combine the appetite for symptom checkers and health-related information and make information from your experts available in a frictionless and seamless way.
Providing a branded symptom checker can ensure that your patients are consuming accurate and trusted information, and can further increase the lifelong relationship between your healthcare brand and the patients. One example of this is KidsMD skill created by Boston Children’s Hospital. This voice skill allows a user to seek general health information for common ailments and medication dosing.
A personal patient assistant. There are modern day conveniences that voice-enabled technology provides, usually while inconspicuously perched in the kitchen or the bedroom of the home. This technology can behave as a patient portal, all without the hassle of someone having to log into their computer. Everything from being reminded of upcoming appointments, requesting medication refills and even providing vitals information to a remote nurse are all possible and can increase touch points and engagement with patients while making their lives easier.
Improving accessibility. Voice-enabled technologies have enormous potential to present a barrier-free experience of seeking and receiving information.
In this survey, one in four people reported a vision issue that impacted their on-screen experience. Voice-enabled technologies remove that on-screen barrier, freeing up the guessing game of whether or not websites will be accessible to a screen reader, or have adequate color contrast or large enough font to read the text. Instead, as one prepares to walk their dog, they can simply say to the voice-enabled device, “Is it going to rain today?”
This is enormously beneficial “on-the-fly” information for someone who is blind and cannot look out the window to see heavy clouds on the horizon.
To transfer this concept to the healthcare space, a person with low vision can request an UBER pickup for transportation to an upcoming doctor’s appointment.
This removes several accessibility questions that these users face daily:Will the UBER app be accessible? Will I reliably complete the process to successfully request a ride?Will the feedback from the Uber app assure me that I selected the right pick up and drop-off location(s)?
Voice feedback from these voice-enabled devices remove the guesswork and provides better assurance of the accurate transmission of information.
Your personal health dashboard…. everywhere! There are 70 million people in the U.S. wearing tracking devices to monitor their physical activity, sleep patterns, calorie consumption, and other health and wellness aspects and people are now using these voice-enabled devices to track their data.
It’s important to remember that Google Home, Alexa and in-home assistants in general are just one channel for voice interaction. The cloud-based brains behind the technology can and will be deployed in a growing number of devices in the years to come - from your fridge, your car to your health system’s smartphone app.
And we know this is just the beginning. As voice-enabled technology begins to fully and seamlessly integrate into our lives, patients will expect these types of capabilities more often and not settle for anything less than a frictionless, seamless, easy experience with all of their providers.