Amazon launches HIPAA-compliant Alexa skills for healthcare

The skills will helps users with answers for their healthcare-focused inquiries, such as checking on the status of a prescription delivery, accessing hospital post-discharge instructions, and booking a doctor's appointment.

Amazon revealed new software that allows hospitals and health insurers to use voice tools to transfer patient information that is protected by the US health privacy law known as HIPAA.

Alexa skills can transmit and receive patients' protected health information, according to a blog post from the tech giant.

·My Children's Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) (from Boston Children's Hospital): Parents and caregivers of children in the ERAS programme at Boston Children's Hospital can provide their care teams updates on recovery progress and receive information regarding their post-op appointments.

To use the new Alexa skills at Providence St. Joseph, patients can simply ask Alexa to open Providence's health app, and Alexa will suggest appointment times within the next day at a clinic closest to the patient's home.

·Cigna Health Today(from health service company Cigna): Eligible employees with one of Cigna's large national accounts can now manage their health improvement goals and earn "personalised wellness incentives".

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In an effort to improve efficiencies and customer experience, Kisco Senior Living recently installed Amazon Echo Dot voice systems with Alexa in all 165 independent living units in its continuing care retirement community (CCRC) The Cardinal at North Hills in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The new skills are part of an invite-only program that Amazon said allows only select covered entities and business associates subject to HIPAA (the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) to create specialized skills for healthcare-related services.

John Brownstein, chief innovation officer, Boston Children's Hospital says the hospital first piloted the service four years ago, and that the ERAS service was very convenient for patients and their families.

The healthcare skill publishers participating in Amazon's exclusive program are happy for having the ability to reach customers via voice technology.

"We believe that voice technology will have an impactful role in helping our members better manage their chronic conditions, and health in general", Livongo President Jennifer Schneider said.

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