Australian Health Insurer Nib Launches Alexa Skill to Connect Members with Nearby Medical Providers


Image Source: VERSA

Australians who use health and medical insurance provider nib can now search a network of healthcare professionals and ask common questions using voice commands. The nib Alexa Skill connects members with over 21,000 medical specialists based on their proximity, as well as nearly 4,000 additional providers like optometrists and dentists.

Prior to the voice activation members had to call or browse online for a provider. Members can now search through their smart speakers and phones. Using their phones members are provided with three options upon initial search and results can appear via SMS, with directions via Google Maps. The skill is also available to New Zealanders and expats, and the plan is to extend the offering to Siri and Google Assistant devices in the near future.

A digital voice experience agency out of Australia, VERSA, partnered with nib on the skill development. “It’s an exciting time in Australia’s voice experience landscape when forward-thinking companies like nib are dedicated to improving their customers’ lives with exceptional initiatives like this,” said VERSA managing director, Jonny Clow.

Healthcare Solution Adoption off to a Slower Start but Rising

A 2019 Smart Speaker Adoption Report published by Voicebot found that asking a question is the most common use for smart speakers in the United States. Within the regularly asked questions, music, news and movies lead with the most frequency. The health and wellness category ranked the #13 most common question, just behind math and games, which is expected to grow over time once more healthcare companies take the plunge into voice.

Healthcare voice technology adoption is slower due to HIPAA regulations and data privacy requirements. Amazon established a health and wellness team inside of the Alexa organization last year with the goal of making Alexa more useful in the healthcare field and a focus on designing around HIPAA guidelines. In April of this year Amazon debuted six new HIPAA compliant Alexa skills. According to the HIPAA Journal, “Amazon has stated that it plans to work with many other developers through an invite-only program to develop new skills to use within its HIPAA-eligible environment.”


Image Source: Integrity Urgent Care

The Mayo Clinic was an early contributor to voice, launching an Alexa first aid skill in 2017. In collaboration with Orbita they recently expanded the skill to Google Assistant and also developed a web-based voice chat system. Orbita’s CEO Bill Rogers explained, “Clearly, voice is here to stay. Orbita is honored to collaborate with Mayo Clinic in exploring new voice opportunities for health care.” Mayo First Aid Alexa Skill took home the 2019 Alexa Skill of the Year for Healthcare Award.

There are many uses for voice AI in the healthcare space, outside of researching doctors, all with the similar objective of making interactions simpler while remaining preventative:

    • On-demand clinician virtual assistants
    • Disease detection, monitoring and prevention
    • Medical record access
    • Documentation support: patient notes, data
    • Bill processing
    • Appointment setting and reminders
    • Situational troubleshooting

How AI and Voice Assistants Will Change Healthcare

NHS Study on Future of Healthcare Foresees Voice Assistants Helping Clinicians and Home-Based Patient Care