‘Alexa, what’s my blood sugar?’—Amazon unveils HIPAA-compliant voice services

Alexa
With more than 100 million Alexa-powered devices sold to date, Amazon’s move could become a big splash as more consumer-focused tech companies rush to meet HIPAA privacy standards. (Getty/canbedone)

Amazon has announced that its smartspeaker voice assistant Alexa is now HIPAA-compliant and can serve as your very own healthcare valet.

To start, the retail and computing giant has paired up with six companies to develop programs that can harbor protected prescription information, book doctor appointments, track blood glucose levels and find the nearest urgent care center.

That includes a program from the digital health company Livongo, a member of the 2017 class of the FierceMedTech Fierce 15, which allows members to ask for their last blood sugar reading, identify trends, and receive personalized “Health Nudges” based on their blood pressure.

Featured Webinar

How to Streamline Your Clinical Research Organization's Processes End to End

Learn how implementing one platform leads to data consistency and ultimately facilitate faster clinical trials while reducing overall trial costs, leave behind spreadsheets and home-grown tools for a predictable trial and the ability to forecast unit delivery resulting in the optics you need to ensure a successful trial, and hear experts share industry trends of what is affecting the Clinical Research Organization industry today.

“We believe that voice technology will have an impactful role in helping our Members better manage their chronic conditions, and health in general,” said Livongo President Jennifer Schneider in a statement. “Speaking and listening are natural communication channels, and voice-based capabilities also allow us to reach people who prefer other modes of communication."

"In providing seamless health insights while our Members are preparing meals or about to exercise, Livongo can more effectively drive positive behavior change," Schneider added.

RELATED: Secret Amazon research unit developing health tech with Fred Hutch

Amazon’s invite-only program currently includes HIPAA covered entities and their business associates—such as providers, payors and pharmacy benefit managers, as well as digital health coaches—and the company plans to open the program up to additional developers, according to Rachel Jiang, Amazon’s head of Alexa Health & Wellness.

Express Scripts members, for example, will be able to check the shipping status of their prescription medication, while certain Cigna customers can keep pace with their health improvement goals and wellness incentives.

Meanwhile, Boston Children’s Hospital has developed a program for the parents and caregivers of children recovering from surgery, allowing them to access discharge instructions, update care teams with progress and receive information on post-op appointments.

RELATED: Slack telegraphs moves into healthcare as it gears up for IPO

“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.” said John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s.

Additionally, two other large healthcare systems, Providence St. Joseph Health and Atrium Health, now let Alexa search for local urgent care centers and book appointments the same day.

With more than 100 million Alexa-powered devices sold to date, Amazon’s move could become a big splash as more and more consumer-focused tech companies rush to meet HIPAA privacy standards for transmitting protected health information.

The messaging company Slack, for example, disclosed in February that its enterprise document upload systems are now certified, while it works to bring its broader services into compliance.

Suggested Articles

A patient has died in the global study of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, Brazil’s health authority, Anvisa, announced on Wednesday.

MyoKardia wasn’t looking for a buyout when it started discussing potential partnerships with Bristol Myers Squibb last year.

Stanford University and its school of medicine have launched plans to survey the population of greater San Francisco for COVID-19.