Published: Sat, April 06, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Hey Alexa, make me a doctor's appointment and don't violate HIPAA

Hey Alexa, make me a doctor's appointment and don't violate HIPAA

The announcement marks another huge move for Amazon into the health care business.

The new service is possible after Amazon received certification under the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

Less than two months after MedCity speculated whether Amazon would release a HIPAA-compliant Echo device, the tech giant announced that select skills for Alexa - the voice-activated personal assistant service powering those devices - are indeed HIPAA-compliant. Now, Amazon says it has created a way for companies to transmit this information via Alexa-enabled devices and remain HIPAA-compliant.

·Swedish Health Connect (from Providence St. Joseph Health, a healthcare system with 51 hospitals across 7 states and 829 clinics): Customers can find an urgent care centre near them and schedule a same-day appointment. The skills in question let the patients ask the virtual assistant for help with tasks such as booking appointments, accessing their post-discharge instructions, checking the delivery status on a prescription and more. "We're excited to be one of the first health systems in the U.S.to build Alexa skills that help our patients connect to our providers and get faster access to care", Aaron Martin, executive vice president and chief digital officer at Providence St. Joseph Health, said in a statement. While healthcare companies have previously created Alexa skills (such as talking people through CPR procedures), the lack of compliance with the landmark privacy rule was a significant roadblock to making tools patients could find useful.

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The tools allow patients to use Alexa to access personalized information such as progress updates after surgery, prescription deliveries and the locations of urgent care centers, according to STAT News.

Atrium Health: Users in North and SC can locate urgent care clinics and schedule appointments.

Cigna and Express Scripts also joined the lineup, offering to manage pharmacy prescriptions, engage in health improvement programs, and track wellness incentives via voice technology.

"Boston Children's Hospital has long believed that voice technology has the potential to substantially improve the healthcare experience for both consumers and clinicians".

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