Answers by Cigna – FI

Cigna Took an Answers-First Approach to its Voice-First Alexa Skill Strategy

Rowena Track, a global vice president at Cigna for digital and channel marketing, presented her company’s experience building the Answers by Cigna Alexa skill at the Voice of Healthcare Summit today at Harvard Medical School. Answers by Cigna was launched in March with the ability to answer 150 questions such as “What is a health savings account?” and “What is an out-of-pocket maximum?” Track says the knowledge base has expended to 250 questions since then. When it launched, Cigna said it was “the first global health service company to offer a skill aimed at personalizing and simplifying health benefits information.” Track commented:

You would be surprised how many people don’t understand the basic terms of healthcare. Our goal was to use the simplicity of voice to address the complexity of healthcare. Our future aspiration is to give a more personalized experience. We want it to be that when you talk that Alexa knows who you are. Have you reached your out-of-pocket contribution, etc.

However, the company started by determining what questions consumers have and how they could answer them. It turned out to be good approach in part because it didn’t require HIPAA data privacy protections or back-end systems integration. Cigna determined which questions to address by reviewing the most common questions asked of their call center representatives.

Implementing the Answers by Cigna Alexa Skill

Rowena Track, Cigna

Ms. Track said that the initiative began around September 2017 and the time between starting development to the March launch was about three months. Cigna developed the Alexa skill with internal resources and is now collaborating with Orbita to extend the capabilities to different voice platforms. Since launching in March Cigna has seen:

  • Unique users: 3,142
  • Utterances per user (i.e. questions asked): 2.3
  • Retention rate (i.e. used again the following week): 1.8%
  • Feedback: 11 five-star customer reviews

Cigna’s digital strategy which it has applied to voice technology according to Track is to follow a process that includes four steps: 1) educate and empower users; 2) gain their trust; 3) win their mind share; 4) earn their business. This highlights the fact that Cigna didn’t focus on providing information about the company in its first voice app. Cigna started by providing educational content for users. This approach is not always embraced by company personnel that have biases toward providing company information first and foremost. However, Track said she received broad support from her colleagues once they recognized that the Alexa skill would answer questions that are typically handled by the call center.

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