Virtual Assistants Become the Newest Members of the Healthcare Team
by Theresa Jacobellis
“Hi. I’m Myra. When you’re ready, click on one of these links to get started,” she says in a warm voice with a confident and professional tone. “As a lifestyle health coach, I can tell you a good program starts with a health risk assessment. So, we have some questions about your medical history and your current health.”
With her hair pinned up in a bun and wearing a white lab coat, Myra is focused on assisting the patient with the completion of an online risk assessment form. She won’t be distracted by the needs of another patient, a ringing telephone, or a co-worker. That’s because Myra isn’t human. She is an intelligent virtual assistant (IVA), an online consumer engagement tool that is helping to measurably improve the online user experience in the healthcare environment.
“The human voice is where you’re able to make an emotional connection with the online user,” explains Dennis McGuire, CEO of CodeBaby, a leading IVA technology provider. “About 40 percent of what users comprehend online is through audio, so we don’t use a computer-generated voice but an emotionally appropriate human voice to support whatever content and experience our clients are going after.”
CodeBaby was founded by physicians who launched and eventually sold a video gaming company while finishing their residency training. That experience equipped them with a vision of an online virtual assistant to guide users through various activities. Educational and training modules were among their earliest applications. They soon realized that healthcare is particularly well suited to using their technology.
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