Personal home assistants such as Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home have been a game changer in the worlds of shopping and household appliances. They have helped us order groceries, told us the weather and can even turn on and off lights, ovens, timers and more. Recently, Alexa, Amazon’s home assistant AI, was used in classrooms to tell stories to kids during lessons. For the world of insurance, however, much more is brewing.
By 2025, the digital voice assistant (DVA) software market is expected to reach one billion users and emerge as a $7.7 billion market. In the future, nearly twice as many millennials will interact with voice assistants on a monthly basis in-comparison to their Generation X counterparts. This means that DVA has the potential to become mainstream and do some amazing things in the process.
Amazon’s home assistant, Alexa, is attempting to make the device useful to healthcare consumers and providers. The new HIPPA-compliant skills would allow consumers to access medical bills or to check on the status of delivery on prescription drugs and more.
While skill development is in an invite-only state at the moment, we can only imagine the possibilities that this has for consumers. At the moment, one can check when their prescriptions will arrive. But what if you could order them on your Amazon Echo or Google Home? Or even better, what if you could compare prices at different pharmacies?
Certainly, this could be a game-changer in the way that we handle many health-related issues. Someone having a heart attack? Tell Alexa and have her notify both the nearest hospital and paramedics. Consumers could have all of their medical records and information at the call of their voice.
Imagine being able to ask Alexa to compare different health insurance plans based on how often you go to the doctors and your current premium, and having it compare prices and statistics in real time at your home. Or find out which doctor or hospital has the best outcomes? While comparing insurance plans, determine which would be the best for you.
In the industry, there’s a lot of talk about the value that brokers bring. Much of the conversation is around being able to advise employers and employees about what their options are, which doctors are in or out of network, which prescriptions are Tier 1, 2 or 3 and help navigate additional coverage options.
Today we visualize benefit comparison in regards to saying ‘Well I have this plan today, what are my other options?’’
Not everybody wants to go to a website and have to navigate between all these plans to try and figure out what they want. If they could basically say, ‘Alexa, based on my current plan, what plans do I have available that would give me a better deductible, while at the same time not increasing my rates by more than 10%?’”
Liberty Mutual is already beginning to do this with auto insurance. Liberty Mutual claims to be the first insurance company to offer an Alexa skill to help navigate the insurance quoting process and provide useful tips for those on the road or at home. With the Alexa skill, users can obtain an auto insurance estimate through voice interaction with their Guestimator tool, or receive actionable advice on common home and auto worries with direct access to their online resource, MasterThis
While Liberty is the first, there are currently 55 skills available on Alexa in the insurance space. Safeco recently taught Alexa about 100 commonly asked insurance questions and terms. Approximately 50% of German consumers envision completing the end-to-end insurance process using voice technologies.”
Another application of an Alexa app is one that could save a lot of time during open enrollment and provide clearer information in real-time. Most brokers or agents simply don’t know all of the answers on the spot when being asked by potential customers. An AI with relevant data could save time and money when being asked questions about benefits and the like.
TurboTax fed tax returns into IBM’s AI, Watson, famously known for winning a game of Jeopardy, Watson was able to analyze the data, and inform TurboTax users of faults in their tax sheets. What if the same could be done in healthcare and assist with open enrollment?
The process of selecting insurance products is a mess, there’s no clear access to information at the time that is needed most, which is when we are selecting a plan or going through a renewal.
Misinformation, slow response times, and a lack of a cohesive database with all of our consolidated medical records and information slow down the process of getting the right information at the time consumers need it. But there is a chance for this to change with Alexa.
If while staying HIPPA-compliant, Google’s Deepmind or another AI learning system was fed health insurance data and medical records, processed this information, and then piped it through Alexa, everything we’ve been talking about in this article could become reality.
Unfortunately, the odds of this happening are slim. First, would we trust our medical records that ties to large corporations? And while AI shows promise to be smarter than brokers or agents, the fact remains that a human can respond much more freely than any robot can today. It seems that for the time being, HIPPA-compliant apps on Alexa will be task driven but key items at this level might remain a fun experiment for some time.
Jason T. Andrew is CEO and co-founder of Limelight Health.Favorite