Cigna rolls out Alexa 'skill' on Amazon Echo

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Cigna has announced a new Amazon Echo skill, “Answers by Cigna,” aimed at personalizing and simplifying health benefits information for policyholders.

The new hands-free tool is designed to provide answers to more than 150 commonly-asked health care questions by customers, according to the company. Cigna joins a slew of carriers to join Amazon's skill network in the last 18 months, including Nationwide, Liberty Mutual and Farmers Insurance.

“Voice control offers an exciting and innovative way for Cigna to educate and engage people about health care in a way that is convenient for them,” said Rowena Track, VP of digital Marketing at Cigna, in a statement. “The applications for voice control are expanding every day and we see great potential as we continue to simplify and personalize our customers’ health care journeys.”

Cigna’s partnership with Amazon represents its latest effort to make health coverage easier to understand and more transparent for customers. In December, the carrier acquired digital-health startup Brighter, a maker of consumer-facing software that enables users to find and compare providers, out-of-pocket costs and view reviews from other patients. The company also launched “BioBall,” a virtual reality game helping customers develop better habits around blood pressure, body mass index and all-around personal health, last year.

More recently, of course, are reports of Cigna’s anticipated purchase of Express Scripts for $67 billion. The move is seen as a response to Amazon’s announcement in January that it would collaborate with J.P. Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway on a joint healthcare company for their employees. CVS Health Corp. also proposed a $68 billion takeover of Aetna three months ago.

Also see: Who’s next in healthcare M&A Frenzy

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Virtual assistants Connected home Public health Health insurance Health and wellness Cigna Aetna CVS Amazon Berkshire Hathaway