Amazon Alexa HIPAA Skills Come to the Device

Grant Boone
April 6, 2019

Alexa, the Amazon virtual assistant increasingly found in senior living communities across the country, now is capable of transmitting and receiving protected health information, Amazon announced Thursday.

"Alexa, book me a doctor's appointment!".

The HIPAA era for Amazon's Alexa has arrived, opening new possibilities for how senior living providers and residents might utilize the voice technology.

"These new skills are created to help customers manage a variety of healthcare needs at home simply using voice - whether it's booking a medical appointment, accessing hospital post-discharge instructions, checking on the status of a prescription delivery, and more", Head of Alexa Health and Wellness Rachel Jiang wrote in a blog post.

Swedish Health Connect, a network of 51 hospitals in seven states, built a voice program to help patients find a nearby urgent care center and to schedule same-day appointments.

·Cigna Health Today(from health service company Cigna): Eligible employees with one of Cigna's large national accounts can now manage their health improvement goals and earn "personalised wellness incentives". Its new Alexa skill allows individuals in the ERAS program to provide their care teams with updates on recovery progress and get information about post-op appointments.

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Atrium Health, a health-care system with more than 40 hospitals and 900 locations throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, launched a similar tool on Thursday.

·Livongo (consumer digital health company helping people to manage chronic conditions): Members can query their last blood sugar reading, blood sugar measurement trends, and receive personalised insights and "Health Nudges".

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) governs how health companies collect and use patient information.

"In the future, we expect to enable additional developers to take advantage of this capability", Jiang wrote.

The healthcare skill publishers participating in Amazon's exclusive program are happy for having the ability to reach customers via voice technology. "We believe it is just one example of how voice technology can extend the care and support of our patients beyond the four walls of the hospital".

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