Bayer Launches AMI Voice Assistant for Doctors on Google Assistant
Bayer has begun promoting a new voice assistant accessible through Google Assistant for doctors named AMI, as first reported in FiercePharma. AMI stands for Assistant for Medical Information and is designed to answer questions by doctors about pharmaceutical medications using conversational language.
AMI operates as a Google Assistant voice action activated by asking the voice assistant to talk to ‘Bayer Pharmaceuticals.’ Right now, the voice app is limited to discussing five medicines; women’s health products Mirena, Kyleena and Skyla, and oncology drugs Nubeqa and Xofigo. More drugs are going to be added to the list soon, starting with another oncology drug named Vitrakvi and hypertension medicine Adempas. AMI has a more extensive database of Bayer’s products as a chatbot on Bayer’s medical information website. The goal with AMI is to give the information to doctors quickly when they need it. After initial testing starting over last summer, the pharmaceutical giant is now looking to raise awareness of the voice assistant option, getting its various field reps and salespeople to talk about it and creating a video explaining AMI.
Bayer senior director of medical communications and medical information Wagdy Youssef spearheaded the initiative, which had to jump through several additional hoops to meet compliance standards. Not everyone can access AMI, for instance. When the voice app is activated, Google Assistant asks about whether the person is a doctor and checks the associated email account. The AI will remind the doctor not to reveal private patient information and will refer them to the proper channel for reporting side effects if asked. The transcript of any AMI conversation is then forwarded to the doctor’s email address once the conversation is over.
Voice assistants for doctors are a very popular idea right now. It’s at the heart of Microsoft’s $19.7 billion purchase of Nuance Communications, and startups like Suki and Saykara, itself acquired by Nuance, have been bombarded by interested physicians and healthcare organizations. The COVID-19 pandemic only fueled more interest and adoption in the concept. What Bayer is doing combines the physician-focused voice assistant idea with its more commercial interests in terms of selling medication.
As with the doctor-facing assistants, COVID-19 has boosted the use of AI for consumer healthcare as well. Voice assistants and chatbots, including the most popular WhatsApp chatbot ever created, are all answering questions about the virus and how to get tested and vaccinated. Bayer is looking at ways of using voice assistants to interact with consumers as well. For instance, the company set up interactive ads via Alexa for Berocca Boost vitamin tablets earlier this year. Pharma companies don’t have the same ability to structure Alexa voice apps the way Bayer wants, according to Youssef, but if that changes then the next voice app will probably operate on both platforms.