April 21, 2019

Amazon Alexa HIPAA Skills Come to the Device

06 April 2019, 08:42 | Silvia Roy

Users prompt, "Alexa, open Providence Health Connect", at which point the application will suggest appointment times at the clinic closest to their home.

We are excited to work with Amazon to bring hands-free, voice-activated Alexa devices to senior living apartments. Now, Amazon says it has created a way for companies to transmit this information via Alexa-enabled devices and remain HIPAA-compliant.

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"These skills are just the first step in making it easier for customers to manage their healthcare needs using just their voice", Rachel Jiang wrote in a post on an Amazon website announcing the launch of a "skills kit" for HIPAA-covered entities and their business associates. Cigna Corp. CI, +1.32% used Amazon's software to build a voice tool to help employees manage health improvement goals, while the company's pharmacy-benefit manager Express Scripts created a program to allow members to check the status of home delivery prescriptions.

The pilot program-which is compliant with the regulating body Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-marks Amazon's first true expansion into the medical field, a departure from its popular smart home-first Alexa approach. 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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The scheduling capability is available across 37 of the health system's urgent care centers on the West Coast.

"Voice is going to be a big part of the future in all areas of our lives, including health and healthcare", Providence St. Joseph Health Chief Digital Officer Aaron Martin said in a news release emailed to Becker's Hospital Review. Among them we can count Express Scripts, Cigna and the Boston Children's Hospital.

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The healthcare skill publishers participating in Amazon's exclusive program are happy for having the ability to reach customers via voice technology. The chronic disease management company's Alexa skill lets patients keep track of their blood sugar checks and get insights and personalized health nudges. "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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