Amazon is very supportive of robots and AI, and very interested in the health and wellness products space. So it was only a matter of time till Alexa began to support HIPAA-compliant communication.
The Alexa Skills Kit now has an invitation-only program allowing Covered Entities and their Business Associates, subject to the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), to build Alexa skills that transmit and receive protected health information.
So far, Alexa has half a dozen new skills:
- Alexa can check on home delivery of prescriptions from one online pharmacy.
- Cigna employees can keep up with their wellness benefits through Alexa.
- Patients in one large surgery program can provide updates for their caregivers.
- Patients can schedule appointments at two large urgent-care networks.
- Diabetic patients can check their blood sugar and get “Health Nudges” to help with lifestyle changes.
Want to get on the list of health skills developers? Apply here. Or at least get on the waiting list for future invitations.
Non-HIPAA health skills
Alexa has a lot of health-related skills outside of the HIPAA-compliant environment, from Bathroom Sidekick (to log your “bathroom events” to the Web-MD database to guided meditations and workouts.
Researchers have been working on giving Alexa the gift of sight… very limited sight that prevents Alexa from spying on her owners. Alexa owners could put prescription bottles next to Alexa and she could remind them to take their prescriptions — a big issue for many patients.
Alexa already provides plenty of health information through a wide range of health education skills created by health and wellness manufacturers as well as by healthcare organizations. Skill development is clearly being used for marketing purposes in the health and wellness space.
Alexa’s value in health care
Skill developers are advertising their willingness to help hospitals hone Alexa’s ability to communicate in a hospital setting, whether to let patients control their environment or to let nurses initiate patient check out.
How else could Alexa help, especially now that she has the ability to be HIPAA compliant? Tell us your ideas in the comments.