Aetna is improving members' experience by providing a personalized, virtual assistant that offers 24/7 assistance, MainStreet reported.
Aetna uses the virtual assistant, dubbed Ann, to help consumers with the registration process and answer questions. After five months, calls to the customer service technical help desk dropped 29 percent.
Moreover, Aetna said the virtual assistant reduced operating expenses without affecting the quality of service. With such an impact, Aetna expanded Ann's duties to help members locate an in-network provider, compare costs by facility or physician, and guide members through complex forms and processes, according to MainStreet.
"I'm here to help you get the most from your Aetna Navigator secure member website," Ann says on the Aetna website, adding that, "If you ask me a question, I'll take a look at where you are on the Aetna Navigator secure member website and guide you to the information you are looking for."
The virtual assistant answers almost 50,000 questions a day and almost 1.5 million questions each month. It also enables the insurer to offer "adherence-boosting coaching for those facing chronic illnesses," Aetna told MainStreet.
Aetna is part of the growing virtual healthcare movement. For example, a sympathetic avatar named Molly has shown promise as a physical therapy coach, while Avatar-based depression interventions were found effective in a study of young adults who interacted with virtual healthcare providers and a virtual health coach, FierceHealthIT previously reported.
And more insurers are embracing virtual telemedicine: Next year, Cigna will begin offering telehealth consultations to some of its members and WellPoint plans to cover virtual doctor visits in all of its employer and individual plans.