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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Agenda 2019: Voice assistants

Written by: | | Dated: Wednesday, February 13th, 2019


By Abby Galardi, Managing Partner at DiD Agency


The market research company Gartner predicts that consumer demand for voice devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home will generate $3.5 billion by 2021. These intelligent voice assistants, plus other digital technologies such as the Apple Watch, are slowly but steadily being adopted in healthcare. More than 51 million people live in a home with a voice assistant; this provides a huge opportunity for mHealth. It is critical that healthcare communicators, organizations, and providers find a way to participate in the assistant revolution.

Abby Galardi

I remember when my mom got her first cell phone. She didn’t know that the ringing coming from her purse was actually her own phone. Voice technology feels a little like that to the healthcare industry. It’s creating a surprising new paradigm, and we need to figure out how it fits into our lives. Here are a couple of opportunities to consider when developing strategies for voice:

Get to know our audiences

Commit to researching how users ask, think, use, and talk about healthcare. Whether it’s a healthcare provider, patient, or caregiver, voice can assist them, but we have to understand what information they need and how they will ask for it. Users are 30 times more likely to ask a full question rather than a couple of well-chosen words, as with traditional search. This means we need to understand the needs and the vernacular.

For marketers, social listening mines information that you may not get in traditional research. It may provide a window into the types and shapes of questions that can help not only your search strategies, but also planning for voice communications.

Start skill-building

Alexa and Google have the ability to learn, and we can teach them. Users of voice devices can download skills to Alexa (or actions on Google.) Think of skills like apps on your smartphone. A user can request to download a skill from Alexa by saying, “Hey Alexa, enable Lyft.” That command accesses a skill built by Lyft that allows them to integrate their Lyft account with Alexa. It’s important for us to create skills, much like apps, that fill a need. For example, an over-the-counter pain medication for children has an insight that parents work in the dark when treating a sick child at night. Is there a skill they can download that communicates the dosing chart in a soft voice?

For healthcare, 2019 is a critical year to find out how voice can work for our industry. Start planning now, so that, when the call comes from your purse or pocket, you know just what to do.


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