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A.I + HEALTH | Voice as the Next Frontier for Conveniently Accessing Healthcare Services

Amazon.com is aiming to enable Alexa, its voice-activated digital assistant, to keep tabs on customers’ medicine and provide personal health updates.

As part of an effort to expand into healthcare, Amazon took the first step last week announcing Alexa is HIPAA-compliant and that five healthcare companies including Cigna, Livongo Health and hospital partners have created new Alexa skills, enabling Alexa to make appointments at urgent care facilities, track prescription drug shipments and provide doctors with information once a patient is released from the hospital. Its also inviting select developers to make skills for Alexa that meet the government requirement on handling patient data. Source: https://www.pymnts.com/amazon-alexa/2019/amazon-alexa-medicine-health-data/

Introducing New Alexa Healthcare Skills —

Amazon’s Alexa Gets 6 New Healthcare Skills & Ensures Patient Privacy

According to a report in  The Wall Street Journal, the new skills focused on healthcare will not only expand Alexa’s abilities, but will also help to compete better against Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. The paper reported market share for Alexa declined 40 percent in 2018.  Prior to that it had 59 percent market share, noted The Wall Street Journal, citing data from Loup Ventures.

April 04, 2019 | By Rachel Jiang

Sign Up for Updates

Amazon Alexa is currently providing a HIPAA eligible environment to select skill developers as part of an invite-only program in the U.S. In the future, we expect to enable additional developers to access this capability to build healthcare skills, allowing more customers to access healthcare services more conveniently using voice. If you are interested in getting updates on our HIPAA eligible environment for Alexa skills, click here.

Voice-controlled Amazon Alexa and AI-enabled healthcare skills can now be securely used by patients, hospitals and healthcare workers.

Today, we’re excited to announce that the Alexa Skills Kit now enables select 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 as part of an invite-only program. Six new Alexa healthcare skills from industry-leading healthcare providers, payors, pharmacy benefit managers, and digital health coaching companies are now operating in our HIPAA-eligible environment. In the future, we expect to enable additional developers to take advantage of this capability. If you are interested in getting updates, click here.

New Healthcare Skills

Every day developers are inventing with voice to build helpful and convenient experiences for their customers. These new skills are designed 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.

The new healthcare skills that launched today are:

  • Express Scripts (a leading Pharmacy Services Organization): Members can check the status of a home delivery prescription and can request Alexa notifications when their prescription orders are shipped.
  • Cigna Health Today (by Cigna, the global health service company): Eligible employees with one of Cigna’s large national accounts can now manage their health improvement goals and increase opportunities for earning personalized wellness incentives.
  • My Children’s Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) (by Boston Children’s Hospital, a leading children’s hospital): Parents and caregivers of children in the ERAS program at Boston Children’s Hospital can provide their care teams updates on recovery progress and receive information regarding their post-op appointments.
  • Swedish Health Connect (by Providence St. Joseph Health, a healthcare system with 51 hospitals across 7 states and 829 clinics): Customers can find an urgent care center near them and schedule a same-day appointment.
  • Atrium Health (a healthcare system with more than 40 hospitals and 900 care locations throughout North and South Carolina and Georgia): Customers in North and South Carolina can find an urgent care location near them and schedule a same-day appointment.
  • Livongo (a leading consumer digital health company that creates new and different experiences for people with chronic conditions): Members can query their last blood sugar reading, blood sugar measurement trends, and receive insights and Health Nudges that are personalized to them.

Amazon’s Alexa is now HIPAA-compliant, according to an announcement written in a blog post by the company. STAT News reported that patient information can now be shared securely using the device, which leads the way for companies to develop programs specifically for the healthcare setting.

Voice as the Next Frontier for Conveniently Accessing Healthcare Services

Developers of the new healthcare skills are excited to enable their customers to access their healthcare services in the comfort of their own homes simply by asking Alexa. These skills are just the first step in making it easier for customers to manage their healthcare needs using just their voice – we’re excited to see what developers build next. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Express Scripts:“With our new Express Scripts skill, we are trying to make it easier for people to make better informed health care decisions. In particular, we believe voice technology, like Alexa, can make it easy for people stay on the right path by tracking the status of their mail order prescription, helping us further solve the costly and unhealthy problem of medication non-adherence.” – Mark Bini, Vice President of Innovation and Member Experience, Express Scripts.
  • Cigna:“With our industry-leading voice skills, we are meeting customers where they are – in their homes, in their cars – and making it simpler to create healthier habits and daily routines. Through our Amazon Alexa skill, customers can simply use voice to understand the full range of their health benefits and receive personalized wellness incentives for meeting their health goals, empowering them to take control of their total health.”– Stephen Cassell, Senior Vice President of Global Brand and Customer Communications, Cigna.
  • Boston Children’s Hospital:“Boston Children’s Hospital has long believed that voice technology has the potential to substantially improve the healthcare experience for both consumers and clinicians. We began this journey with one of the first Amazon Alexa skills from a hospital four years ago and are thrilled to participate in the initial launch of Amazon Alexa’s HIPAA-eligible service for developers. The My Children’s Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) skill, launching today, allows patients and caregivers to easily share recovery progress with their care team post-surgery. 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.” – John Brownstein, Chief Innovation Officer, Boston Children’s Hospital.
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