More and more patients are purchasing voice-assisted devices, and the quality of voice recognition software is only increasing. Here’s what that means for the future of healthcare.
The age of voice-driven technology is coming, and it’s coming quickly. ComScore reports that 40% of American adults already use voice search in their everyday lives, and estimates that 50% of all queries will be voice searches by 2020. This number will only grow as voice-enabled assistant devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home become more commonplace.
Improvements in speech recognition technology and decreasing device prices present exciting opportunities for medical organizations. As voice technology grows more sophisticated, patients can engage with their health at home through voice-assisted IoT. Here are some of the most exciting applications of voice search, as well as how marketers should respond.
Care from the Comfort of Patients’ Homes
In-home, voice-enabled devices open a realm of new possibilities for medical organizations. Voice assistants could help patients book rides to and from a hospital through ride-sharing services, or communicate discharge instructions for post-surgery care once a patient is no longer under the effects of anesthesia or heavy painkillers. This technology also improves things on the clinician side; patients can get answers to common medical questions while doctors collect data remotely, eliminating unnecessary follow-up visits.
Though voice search has the potential to benefit a wide variety of patients, it will bridge an especially important gap for the elderly. Many older people feel uncomfortable searching for medical information on computers or tablets, but voice search eliminates the barrier of confusing interfaces. Patients can simply speak to a device as they would to a medical assistant, getting the answers they need with less hassle.
Some of the more aspirational uses of this technology are a longer way off. The evolution of HIPAA regulations will determine the pace of adoption, especially for any use of voice technology with medical records. But as long as compliance can keep up with innovation, medical organizations can anticipate new ways to connect with their patients that streamline cumbersome data entry processes and allow for remote monitoring.
Marketing to Voice Search
To prepare for a reality where voice search is ubiquitous, medical marketers need to optimize their web presences to focus on local traffic. Use schema markup to communicate important site information — like phone numbers, addresses, and specialties — to Google’s crawlers, and update that information across as many directory platforms as possible to increase your chances of being found through voice queries.
But it isn’t enough to simply be everywhere; messaging and keywords must be tailored to align with human speech patterns. By using long-tail keywords — three- to four-word phrases that specifically describe a product or service — medical organizations can bring in more targeted traffic through voice. It’s also important to note that most users still submit voice queries through mobile devices, so marketers should confirm that their sites load quickly and work flawlessly on phones and tablets to ensure optimal SEO rankings.
(Image source: Amazon)