Virtual Assistants Become the Newest Members of the Healthcare Team

March 1, 2014

by Theresa Jacobellis

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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