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Alexa, What's My Blood Sugar? Amazon Voice Assistant Can Now Handle Your Medical Information

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Amazon announced that it will add medical skills to Alexa, its virtual assistant. These new skills are expected to make healthcare services more convenient and accessible to customers.  ( Asivechowdhury | Wikimedia Commons )

Amazon is making its virtual assistant and voice technology more useful in the healthcare industry with six new digital healthcare services coming to Alexa.

Amazon announced the launching of an invitation-only program for developers that will allow select covered entities and their business associates to create Alexa skills that are compliant with the United States Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or HIPAA.

HIPPA protects patients in cases where their personal health information is shared with health care institutions.

Healthcare And Alexa

Developers accepted in the program can use Alexa Skills Kit to build new healthcare skills that can transmit and receive protected health information of customers. These new skills are designed to help customers manage healthcare needs at the convenience of their homes through the use of voice technology.

About 20,000 customers already have an Alexa device at home.

Just by giving out voice commands to Alexa, customers can now schedule medical appointments, check prescription deliveries, access hospital post-discharge instructions, and perform more health-related functions. Customers can also start asking queries, such as "Alexa, what is my blood glucose reading" or "Alexa, where is the nearest hospital," and expect for significant answers from the digital assistant.

Acquiring Of New Skills

The latest Alexa skills that are HIPAA-eligible highlights voice as the next frontier for conveniently accessing healthcare services.

The digital pharmacy service Express Scripts can assist customers in checking the status of home delivery prescriptions; Cigna Health Today allows eligible employees to manage their health improvement goals and increase wellness incentives; the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery or ERAS program of the Boston Children's Hospital will allow parents and caregivers of children in the program to update care teams on recovery progress and receive information regarding their post-operation appointments.

Swedish Health Connect and Atrium Health will both enable customers to find an urgent care center and make same-day appointments. People with chronic health conditions can make use of digital health start-up Livongo to inquire about personalized health insights.

Amazon said that these new digital healthcare skills are just the first steps in making it easier for customers to manage their medical needs.

"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," said Stephen Cassell, senior vice president of Cigna.

More Digital Health Ventures

These partnerships with health companies will add to Amazon's growing ventures in the digital health industry.

In 2018, Amazon acquired online pharmacy PillPack for less than $1 billion. The company also has an existing joint initiative with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan for improving healthcare services for employees.

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