- Insurer Cigna announced Tuesday it is releasing "Answers by Cigna," a skill for Amazon Alexa aimed at using voice control to educate consumers on 150 commonly-asked healthcare questions.
- The new application comes in response to a 2017 survey on health literacy that found only 20% of those surveyed understood the word "premium" and 66% did not understand what a formulary was, Cigna said.
- The launch comes months after Mayo Clinic launched a health-related voice control Alexa skill, which aimed to assist people with first aid advice.
Cigna noted that when consumers don't understand terms used in health insurance plans, they are less likely to "take full advantage of their benefits." Rowena Track, vice president of digital marketing at Cigna, says that launch of the Alexa application will lead to other new personalized services this year as the company gains experience with voice platforms.
The news comes as Amazon moves to put Alexa in more workplaces. In November, Amazon launched Alexa for Business, aimed at alleviating remedial tasks for workers such as booking conference rooms and integrating with applications like Microsoft Office 365.
Voice assistants are increasingly being used in healthcare for specific populations such as the disabled and seniors. The Cigna move demonstrates that healthcare companies are also looking to use voice command applications for a more general population.