eTech Insight – Frictionless Shopping Alternatives Will Improve Healthcare Services - Cover

eTech Insight – Frictionless Shopping Alternatives Will Improve Healthcare Services

Consumers Expect Healthcare Services to Mimic Retail Capabilities

Healthcare organizations have digital service offerings that mimic what consumers experience with retail services. Small keyboard displays on smartphones lead to people “fat fingering” inputs that result in errors and significant consumer frustration. Many large retailers are adding voice services to their ordering capabilities to improve consumers’ digital experiences. These voice services are referred to as “frictionless shopping alternatives.” Voice recognition engines made by large technology companies are advancing to be very accurate when it comes to dealing with different dialects and understanding semantic contexts.

Walmart is currently allowing voice recognition services from Amazon, Apple, and Google to interact with its shopping services. The recent acquisition of a cross-platform solution from a start-up called Botmock will drive Walmart’s “conversational commerce” solutions. Botmock developed a set of tools for designing, prototyping, testing, and deploying conversational applications across platforms. The Botmock tool will also allow Walmart to design, test, and deliver conversational voice solutions for its digital shopping services.

Amazon Lex, is an Amazon Web Services (AWS) offering with built-in natural language understanding (NLU) and automatic speech recognition (ASR) for designing conversational interfaces using voice and text. It can deliver effective chatbots, and it provides a simple approach that allows users to ask for information.

Healthcare organizations will need adopt the same conversational voice capabilities as Walmart and Amazon to remain competitive in their markets.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Advances Voice Recognition Services

AI applied to a voice recognition service can identify a specific person. Fidelity uses this type of service when members dial in to their customer service center to create a “voice print” to identify that member. No longer does a user have to give their name, address, mother’s maiden name, or other data to gain access to their Fidelity account. As soon as they are connected and speak, the system will recognize who they are. This will aid in providing secure healthcare information to patients.

Google Assistant has taken its voice services to a new level with Family Link. This service provides a variety of activities, from stories to games to learning tools for children and families, including some content provided by third-party developers. Google Assistant’s voice capabilities can be used to guide family members to appropriate healthcare content or online therapies, or to locate elderly family members. These types of voice recognition capabilities can also support acute care-at-home services.

Apple has improved Siri's voice capabilities by providing its services on iOS devices. This will make Siri considerably faster and, in some cases, allow it to function without a Wi-Fi or data connection. This advancement of Siri also resolves some security challenges Apple experienced with iOS versions older than iOS 15.

Applying these AI-enabled voice recognition capabilities to digital healthcare applications would allow patients to schedule service visits, order medication refills, provide payment information, and easily access patient portal services and their personal health information.

Retail Digital Services Set Consumer Expectations for All Digital Services

Retail web services set the expectations for healthcare web services. Websites from Amazon, Costco, Walmart, and Target provide intuitive designs that allow consumers to find, review, and order products from those companies. They also predict what other products the consumers might be interested in purchasing. Few healthcare organizations have been able to create competitive websites, but there has been little penalty for that as they have been the only games in town in most cases. But the game has changed with value-based healthcare and consumers’ abilities to link to networks of care with their smart devices. Failure to provide conversational voice services to healthcare consumers could be a disastrous business event.

Retail Companies Entering Healthcare

Healthcare organizations should closely monitor retail companies such as Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS who are aggressively entering the primary healthcare markets. These companies have a deep understanding of how to engage patients in digital services. The companies will use the ambient conversational voice services from Apple, Google, and Amazon to support their customer services. Healthcare organizations must be able to provide similar services.

Success Factors

  1. Provider organizations should begin to assess and test conversational voice services with their digital application solutions within their innovation centers.
  2. Initially, specific healthcare services should be evaluated to introduce conversational voice services. For example, voice services could be used to allow people to schedule services more easily.

Voice recognition services should also be evaluated relative to healthcare organizations’ security capabilities with digital patient engagement services.


Frictionless shopping alternatives will drive higher levels of patient satisfaction for engaging provider services. Voice recognition capabilities will continue to advance. Google is working on Project Euphonia to improve voice recognition for people with impaired speech conditions that could impact the accuracy of voice recognition.

The ability to use voice recognition for patient identification, application navigation and operation, and improved voice-to-text communication will create a digital environment that is likely to establish patient loyalty. Patient loyalty will be important for providers relative to value-based care as it will provide the foundation for keeping patients in-network for their care services. Equipping telehealth/telemedicine environments with frictionless voice capabilities will enable clinicians to provide more efficient care while improving telehealth encounters for patients.

As healthcare delivery moves to patients’ homes, the ability to create services that allow patients to easily communicate and interact with their care providers using voice recognition services will enable many people who are technophobes or inexperienced technology users to participate in virtual care more easily.

Photo Credit: Gorodenkoff, Adobe Stock