November 16, 2023

Improving The Patient Experience with Voice AI

Healthcare is already using Voice AI to engage patient populations and improve outcomes.

In my career I have lived through three significant shifts in technology and audience behavior that directly impacted my work. The first shift was the move to the commercial web in the late 90's. The second was social media. The third was mobile.

There is a fourth shift that is already underway and that is Voice. It's the newest way an audience can interact with a brand and has been making waves in search.

What Does Voice Mean for Healthcare?

From a healthcare perspective, Voice is the first new channel we have to engage with our patient populations since mobile.

It's critical for any healthcare organization to start with the needs of the patient and deliver information around those needs. The thing we need to keep in mind is that the patient's information needs don't change based on the device. How the content is delivered and how the audience interacts with the information however does change.

Once we understand the needs (and nuances) of our audience, we need to deliver optimized content across all channels, starting with smart speakers.

As Voice platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Home become more ubiquitous, our audience will be asking more and more health related questions on these devices. It's our job to ensure patients are getting the most accurate and up-to-date information answers to their questions.

Recently, the British NHS announced the availability of an Amazon Alexa Skill that answers common health related questions powered by the content already on the NHS website.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said, “Technology like this is a great example of how people can access reliable, world-leading NHS advice from the comfort of their home, reducing the pressure on our hardworking GPs and pharmacists.”

There's plenty of things they could have focused on but they chose to start with answering the most common health related questions to solve a larger patient problem.

With Voice First, patient needs are front and center and we optimize the content for audio only delivery first. Voice interactions are challenging and require additional considerations because in some cases, there is no screen. Once you have an optimized experience for audio only, enhance the content and experience for more capable devices such as an Amazon Echo Show, a website, longer format video, podcasts etc.

Use Case Thought Starters

Dr. Neel Desai and I spoke recently about the state of Voice in healthcare and he said "Everyone in Healthcare is looking to hit a grand-slam with Voice. Instead, we need to be focusing on base hits and getting some runners on base."

Providing the right information to the right person at the right time in a way that they can understand is why Voice will become such a powerful patient engagement tool. We need to start small and do a few things really well. Once our patients are comfortable when can start to add more complex capabilities and integrate with other systems.

There are a number of ways Voice can be leveraged in healthcare that don't require HIPAA compliance but still provide patient value.

  • Disease eduction news of the day (Flash Briefing)
  • Disease education skill
  • Virtual patient support
  • Ask a Doc virtual Q&A

Voice technologies like Amazon Alexa or Google Home are even starting to be used during clinical trials to improve the patient experience and outcomes.

With the added layer of HIPPA compliance, Voice experiences can start to handle patient data to enable use cases like:

  • Medication Adherence
  • Clinical trial reporting
  • Patient data entry input

While we need to think patient-first, Healthcare Professionals can benefit from the efficiency of Voice experiences that can enhance the patient experience.

  • Staff education
  • Patient Instructions/Education
  • Dosing lookup
  • Doctor notation with EMR integration
  • Virtual Key Opinion Leader (KOL)
  • Sales Team enablement (virtual training)
  • Virtual call center

As technologies develop, the list of use cases will continue to expand but there are plenty of areas where we can begin building a foundation to enhance patient experience with the feature sets readily available.

The key is to identify where the audience needs and business objectives overlap and focus your efforts there. This will provide your organization with the best opportunity to create value in a relevant way.  As your experience matures over time and you learn how its users interact with it you can add more content and features to deliver an even better experience. Start small and it evolve over time. But the time to start is now.

About the author

Scot Westwater is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Pragmatic, an expert in conversational AI and Voice technology with over 24 years in design, UX, and digital strategy. His work focuses on enhancing marketing and customer experience through the use of Artificial Intelligence. A notable figure in the industry, Scot co-authored 'Voice Strategy' and 'Voice Marketing' (2023), and contributes as an Open Voice Network Ambassador and an instructor at the Marketing AI Institute.

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