Voice assistants have changed the way people live, and voice-enabled technology is quickly becoming the faster, easier path to access information and perform functions. Useful and efficient, voice assistant applications are spreading beyond entertainment and home security to industries such as health care.

Some industry experts estimate that by 2020, 50% of searches will be conducted using voice and 75% of homes in the United States are expected to have a voice assistant, presenting a significant opportunity to make health care easier to access and understand. Aware that consumers can feel confused by health care’s complex terminology and overwhelmed by all the information they need to make good health care decisions, Keck Medicine of USC is now using voice assistant technology to change the way people interact with the health care system.

Keck Medicine has collaborated with UnitedHealthcare and Optum to launch voice assistant capabilities for all Keck Medicine patients in any health care plan.

“We are very excited to be launching this new consumer-friendly technology, which will be available in both English and Spanish,” said Dilip Parekh, MD, professor of clinical surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and chief clinical officer for the Keck Medicine Provider Network and Digital Health. “Patients will now be able to get the health care information they need from the comfort of their own homes, simply by using their voices.”

The Keck Medicine voice assistant skill can be enabled on smart speaker devices. Once a patient says, “Open Keck Medicine,” they can ask for a wide range of health care information, such as:

  • provider and facility locator to find the closest and most appropriate care provider, as well as options for care such as virtual visits
  • symptom checker that uses artificial intelligence to provide consumers with information about medical symptoms and suggest appropriate care options
  • health dictionary to answer basic health questions to help patients better understand terminology, conditions, diagnoses and symptoms

“This voice assistant skill hits home on how we are expanding our relationships with providers to benefit all health care constituents,” said Anthony Nguyen, vice president, Population Health, UnitedHealthcare Services. “We will be deploying for other providers as well, and exploring multiple platforms, like Google, and multiple languages, beyond English and Spanish.”

To learn more, email alexa.support@optum.com.