Amazon Alexa is Your New Health Care Tool

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In a bid to continue growing its Alexa-focused health care program, Amazon has partnered with several companies to release HIPAA compliant skills for the device. From scheduling doctor appointments to finding urgent care centers and receiving updates from health care providers, Alexa users can now use their devices to better manage their health.

With this advancement comes the potential for big changes across the health care field. When looking at this transformative innovation, it is important to remember that:

  • The device has only recently released HIPAA compliant skills – so Alexa’s capabilities in this area are relatively new.
  • Developers are still working on building practical skillsets and voice commands.
  • This system can ultimately help patients manage their health and wellness goals as its compliant capabilities grow.

The Move Toward HIPAA Compliance

Although Amazon has been working on HIPAA compliant skills for some time, the company only recently gained the ability to partner with health care providers to develop them.

Amazon has now launched several new skills that allow users to send and receive medical information without violating HIPAA:

Users can use Alexa in a variety of ways, including to:

  • Schedule doctor appointments;
  • Receive updates from providers;
  • Find urgent care centers;
  • Check on prescriptions;
  • Learn about recent blood sugar readings.

Amazon Alexa in action

Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash

To continue building upon these base skills, Amazon has now invited select developers to try their hands at adding a few of their own.

They have gained many interested clients as a result, including Boston Children’s Hospital. Through this partnership, the hospital has created its own skill, called ERAS. ERAS allows patients to directly collaborate with their care team from the comforts of their own homes. Patients can reach out for aftercare instructions and other information, while providers can also check in to see how their patients are doing after returning home from a hospital visit.

Many other health care centers are working to use Alexa in this way, with the ultimate goal of furthering both convenience and improved health outcomes.

Practical Uses of Alexa in Health Care

With HIPAA compliance comes endless opportunities for Alexa to improve experiences for both patients and providers.

Take a closer look at some of Alexa’s current HIPAA compliant skills:

Manage Health Care Goals

Alexa can help people manage wellness goals. For example, Amazon has partnered with large companies to advance corporate wellness initiatives. Cigna has developed voice-controlled skills that allow employees to collectively participate in programs that help improve health through wellness incentives. This drives individuals to do all they can to develop healthy habits and keep up with them every day.

To further support employee wellness, Cigna created the “Answers by Cigna” skillset. This skill allows users to ask over 150 different health care questions and receive accurate, easy to understand answers. This empowers employees to take charge of and improve their own health. Other businesses will likely follow suit in the coming months and years, as they see the success achieved by Cigna.

Check on Medication Deliveries

In an effort to help patients keep up with their medications, Express Scripts created a skill that allows people to check on their prescription medication delivery status through Alexa. This company was later acquired by Cigna, which integrated this function into its existing skillsets.

The ability to check on medication deliveries using Alexa gives patients more confidence and control over their health. By reciting the voice commands, patients can check on the status of their deliveries any time, and then take the next steps accordingly to stay on top of their health.

Receive Personalized Medical Info

Thanks to its HIPAA compliant status, Alexa can retrieve sensitive health data and deliver it to the patient through a private connection. Patients with diabetes, for example, can retrieve information about their blood sugar levels to make the necessary corrections and avoid serious health repercussions.

Livongo created a similar skillset for their patients. With their query set, patients can ask Alexa for their personalized medical info and use it to better manage their health. The management of chronic conditions becomes much easier and more approachable with support from this helpful digital voice assistant.

Schedule Appointments

When people have urgent care needs, they may not have the time to search for an open clinic. With Alexa on their side, however, it is possible to ask for nearby urgent care clinics and even schedule an appointment right then.

Providence St. Joseph Health brought this skillset to life in an effort to better serve patients and the community as a whole. Patients can now simply use a few voice commands to book a same-day appointment at their urgent care center of choice, improving their ability to receive timely care when they need it most.

In the coming months and years, developers will add even more purpose-built skills, helping further integrate this digital voice assistant into the health care world.

The Future of Amazon Alexa in Health Care

As developers work hard at adding health skills to Alexa, this technology will become more and more popular among users and health care providers alike. Using Alexa will help these patients and providers collaborate to achieve the best health outcomes possible. Patients can also work on their wellness goals on their own and from the comfort of their home by tapping into new voice commands.

As you advance your health care career, you will need to adapt to new and cutting-edge technologies as they will continue to alter the way you do business. The Executive Master of Health Administration online program at USC Sol Price School of Public Policy prepares students to face the changes that come with holding top-level health care leadership positions head-on. Learn more – visit USC online today!

Sources

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/03/amazon-alexa-hipaa-compliant-adds-medical-skills.html

https://www.statnews.com/2019/04/04/amazon-alexa-hipaa-compliant/

https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2019-archive/april/amazons-alexa-hipaa-compliant

https://healthadministrationdegree.usc.edu

https://www.cigna.com/about-us/newsroom/innovation/answers-by-cigna-personalizes-health care

https://www.cigna.com/newsroom/news-releases/2019/cigna-and-express-scripts-further-enhance-customer-service-offerings-through-new-collaboration-with-amazon-alexa

https://www.hipaajournal.com/hipaa-compliant-alexa-skills/