Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, has become a household fixture that is used to turn the lights on, play music, check the weather and order a new supply of fish food. Now, users can ask Alexa to find a doctor, or check their blood sugar!
This year Amazon announced that Alexa is now HIPAA compliant. This means Alexa is now able and allowed to receive and transmit personal health information that has traditionally been considered private.
HIPAA stands for the Heath Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This law, enacted in 1996, provides a standard to protect the medical records and health information of patients generated and/or supplied by health plans, physicians, hospitals and other care providers.
Amazon previously announced that its AWS service was HIPAA compliant and could be used to securely process, maintain, and store protected health information. Amazon has now worked with a few business to bring a handful of medical services conveniently to their customers through Alexa. So far, Alexa’s menu of HIPAA compliant services is somewhat small and was designed on Amazon’s invitation. These include:
- Being able to check the delivery status of prescriptions and request shipment notifications from Express Scripts.
- Manage your health improvement goals and potentially earn wellness incentives in you participate in Cigna Health Today.
- Update care teams on your child’s recovery and get information on appointments if you are using My Children’s Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS).
- Find directions to urgent care facilities and schedule appointments in the Swedish Health Connect & Atrium Health networks.
- Access your blood sugar readings, trends, and get personalized feedback to manage your disease if you use Livongo Diabetes Management Program.
However, Amazon has made it clear that a set of language-building tools in its Alexa skills kit will also be designed with HIPAA compliance, thus allowing even more companies to create voice features for Amazon Echo devices. Healthcare providers should therefore expect much more from the language assistant in the future.
Using Alexa receive and transmit personal health information has already raised eyebrows. Under HIPAA, the standards by which health information is privately and securely transmitted are quite stringent. Beyond signing a Business Associate Agreement, Amazon will have to show how it deals with user authenticating users, privacy in shared spaces, eavesdropping, hackers, how integration with electronic health records and other systems, to name a few.Previous Post Next Post