Healthcare Leaders Must Consider Voice-based Apps


12 million American adults over the age of 65 live alone, according to the Pew Research Center. Of course, this presents a host of potential problems when it comes to their health and well-being. Be it emotional support, daily living support, fall risk, polypharmacy complications — even those fortunate to have caregivers close by are looking for additional support when needed.

The opportunity: leveraging the rise of in-home smart speaker technologies to better engage and support segments of the population.

While the adoption of smartphone technology already hit a record 42 percent among adults 65 and older in 2017, the adoption rate of smart speakers in the home is significantly faster than that. Even within the hard-to-reach senior population, adoption has grown by almost 40% between 2017 and 2018, with an accelerating trend going into 2019. That’s roughly 5x the velocity of smartphone adoption, with more seniors already using smart speakers than wearables.

The combination of growing popularity and ease of use makes this a viable option to leverage in healthcare apps to advance digital health. Common use cases include search, assistant, journaling, and connectivity with loved ones or professionals. According to research firm Gartner, voice-driven search is the fastest-growing search type.

The elderly population is just one example of a group that could benefit; Consumers of all ages and conditions stand to benefit from simple, and safe, voice-based apps. Let’s drill down into why this is an opportunity for healthcare organizations.

Why Adopt?

Healthcare organizations have to look at voice-based apps as a new front in digital health, bringing with it distinct advantages over the conventional web and mobile apps:

  • Greater speed. It’s faster to communicate by voice, especially when compared to texting or typing.

  • Greater accessibility. It’s easier to use voice because it doesn’t require mobility; when compared with texting, it requires little motor skill coordination.

  • More immediate and practical. Voice can be used anywhere a voice assistant is in earshot, and it doesn’t require putting things down to find and use another device.

  • More intuitive. Unlike apps, websites or software programs, there’s virtually no learning curve for voice assistants. That’s because everyone knows how to talk.

Who Benefits?

Voice-based apps hold benefits for leaders across the healthcare ecosystem, including:

  • Payers, who can deploy voice-based apps to provide simple and effective self-service to members looking to accomplish simple tasks such as getting an HSA balance and tips for how best to use one. The end result? Cost savings and superior experience.
  • Pharmaceutical companies, who can support patients with both interactive dialog and notification-enabled patient support programs that offer connectivity to specialists as needed. The end result? More natural side effect tracking which is a leading cause of lack of adherence, and better prescription management and savings, and care team connectivity.

  • Providers, who can extend the care beyond core facilities and for ancillary service lines – the right care to the right patient with remote access to behavioral health, nutrition health, and follow-up care. The end result? Coverage for critical care gaps.


Amazon’s deliberate entrance into the healthcare space makes the ubiquity and ecosystem around voice in healthcare a “fait accompli.” Voice-based apps are already rapidly growing in selection and sophistication. That means new features will be added in the coming months and years to better support healthcare use cases.

What are some of the most challenging engagement problems and segments you are trying to solve for with digital? Chances are high that some of them are an excellent fit for voice-enabled apps. Contact us to find out how we can help your organization bring voice to your vision.

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