Making it easier for people to make better informed health care decisions.


Answers by Cigna

This hands-free skill on both Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices helps people take charge of their coverage by helping them learn the language of health care.


With nearly half of Americans now utilizing voice enabled devices, finding answers about your health insurance may be as simple as asking Alexa.

As the first global health service company to offer a smart speaker “skill” to simplify health benefits information, I was a part of this ambitious project to design the voice user interface that addressed the changing way people use technology to access health information.

The “Answers by Cigna” skill is designed to demystify language about health care by providing instant and easy-to-understand answers to more than 250 commonly asked health care questions, including Medicare-related terms.


If you find the vocabulary of health care unfamiliar, you’re not alone. It’s a big problem. About one in 10 people in the US have a proficient level of health literacy, according to an assessment by the US department of Education – That is, they could understand and use health-related information in daily activities.

The challenge was to design a voice user interface (VUI) to close the knowledge gap about critical information needed to both understand and access health care.

Patients who don’t grasp fundamental health and insurance concepts are less likely to make smart decisions about when and where to seek care. In fact, people with low “health literacy” are more likely to be hospitalized and use costly emergency rooms. Additionally, people unfamiliar with the terms used in their health plan are less likely to take full advantage of their benefits.


Cigna’s overall digital strategy is to educate and empower users, gain their trust, win their mind share and earn their business. I led the design of the VUI and worked alongside researchers, engineers, a content strategist and project managers in creating a customer touchpoint utilizing voice assisted technology to improve customer experience and satisfaction.


My focus relied heavily on research and testing. I researched Cigna customer service inquiries to uncover the most common topics/questions that customers asked when contacting a Cigna customer service representative. Likewise, I researched informational search queries on as well as the Cigna Healthcare Glossary for common terms and keywords. I also explored the competitive landscape of existing healthcare-related Alexa Skills.

I studied how people used Amazon’s virtual assistant and identified 3 key user interaction modes:

  1. Inform My Day – Weather, Traffic, News
  2. Entertain Me – Play Music, Jeopardy, Tell Jokes
  3. Do Simple Tasks – Set Alarm/Timer, Turn On/Off Lights, Manage To-Do Lists


Based on market research, we targeted users between 34 and 54 that have obtained their health insurance independently or through their employer. ​Additionally, we skewed towards families given the usage behaviors and patters with voice enabled assistants. 


Using the insight gathered from my research, I created a voice user interface dialog flow outlining the entire conversation between the system and the users. I wanted to ensure that the interactions were informative, conversational and simple. Additionally, it was important to craft a strong error strategy while also making sure that we confirm when a task has been completed.

A quick proof-of-concept prototype was built on Amazon’s Alexa Skill Builder platform based on the dialog flow.

User Testing

The prototype of the VUI was tested on an Alexa device to understand how intuitive the skill was to use and identify and usability issues. We also wanted to learn how users currently educate themselves about heal insurance terminology and determine where the skill has practical value.

There were 4 common themes that were uncovered during testing.

  1. The skill name and/or invocation phrase were barriers to opening the “Healthcare Terms” skill.
  2. There were variances in how user talk & interact with the “Healthcare Terms” skill.
  3. The “Healthcare Terms” skill was useful for its intended purpose.
  4. There’s value in a skill that offers personalized information based on individual policy or health.

What was learned from these findings and insights established clarity around the experience and allowed the concept to take sufficient shape for immediate and future state development.


Answers by Cigna launched nationally in 2018 on both Amazon Alexa and later that year, on Google Home devices. Within a few months, the skill garnered over 4,000 users, positive customer reviews and tons of media attention. The skill continues to not only drive engagement, but also leads to greater customer satisfaction with Cigna. Most of all, this new customer touchpoint allows Cigna to educate and engage in a way convenient for the user.



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    Associate Creative Director