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All the hype for voice search and voice assistants means nothing to HCPs and healthcare marketers

I do not need to prepare for a voice search revolution, sorry Forbes.

If you use a voice assistant or voice search you probably already know it will be a long time before they will be any use to HCPs and people who need medical answers (or really any important answers).

Why? Strip away all the red-tape and legalese of producing healthcare media and content, and you still have technology that is simply not robust enough to support a meaningful interaction.

Voice technology simply lags for healthcare

Today it sometimes takes Alexa three tries to play the right song. Painful. I’ve watched a couple failed Google Glass demonstrations at Google headquarters. Ouch. When I speak to Siri, it has to be s-l-o-w and m-e-t-h-o-d-i-c-a-l. Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft all need to step up the R&D and developing efforts to make voice integration and voice search a game-changer.

Last year in 2017, 1 in 5 online adults (data includes 16-24 yr olds – make of that what you will) used voice search on their mobile within the last month when surveyed, according to Global Web Index. If they are anything like me, it was probably to ask very basic questions like “what time is the Sox game?” or “how old is Jerry Seinfeld?”. The opportunity for SEO and marketing in this context feels over-hyped.

That said, it cannot be denied the opportunity for voice search and assistants in healthcare is incredible. Imagine a world where your doctor can conversationally tap into a voice assistant or voice search to tell your vitals from the last appointment or in real-time probe on a possible illness or disease. It could cut the time it takes to discover and find information dramatically. But, the technology has to work and we will need to build a way to make it less cumbersome. How will we adhere to HIPPA and make the technology useful?

It is going to take healthcare a while longer than the rest of the world to get into the voice game.

Opportunity to do something new in digital

From Ascender’s perspective, brands and healthcare professionals should keep their eye on the prize. Digital experiences reign supreme. Healthcare always feels to be lagging behind in tapping new digital design and functionality trends. There is room to improve existing digital experiences by blending in new best practices we are learning in other verticals.

As we wait for Amazon (who recently created a health and wellness team on their Alexa division) and the other big players to step up their voice game, we should be thinking about how to apply more best practices (smart content, video, responsive design, better UX and IA) into healthcare digital strategy.