Daily Updates, Future Ear Radio

Future Ear Daily Update: 4-4-19

VoiceFirst Health & HIPAA-Compliance

Image: Alexa Developer Blog

It was revealed today that Amazon has created a new class of HIPAA-compliant skills. Amazon has opened the kit up to a select number of developers as it slowly rolls out its new skill kit built for developers to work around sensitive healthcare data. Here’s the official announcement from Amazon:

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

.So what does this change mean? It opens the door for how smart assistants can begin to be implemented in the healthcare setting. Up until this point, implementing voice in a meaningful way in hospitals, doctor’s offices and at the patient’s home has been greatly hindered by the fact that much of the type of data is protected by HIPAA. The six examples that are included in this initial roll out are:

  1. Express Scripts (pharmacy services company): ask Alexa about the status of your prescriptions.
  2. Cigna (global health services company): Manage your health improvement goals and personalized wellness incentives through Alexa.
  3. Swedish Health Connect (healthcare system) – find an urgent care center and make a same-day appointment through Alexa.
  4.  Atrium Health (healthcare system) – Find urgent care center and make same day appointment.
  5. Livongo (digital health company) – Check your glucose levels that can be accessed by Alexa through the connected wearable device that records your glucose levels, such as Omrom’s devices.
  6. Boston Children’s Hospital “Enhanced Recovery after Surgery” (ERAS): – parents can receive information regarding their child’s post-op appointments.

CNBC reporter, Christina Farr, noted in her piece today that, “The developers behind these skills pointed to the trend of bringing health to the home, which represents both a cheaper and more convenient option for the patient. It’s also a way for providers, including doctors and nurses, to monitor patients once they leave the home, which both gives them an opportunity to prevent costly readmissions to the hospital.”

As this HIPAA-compliant developer kit becomes more broadly accessible to developers, we should begin to see more use cases beyond what we’re seeing from these initial six. Alexa continues to expand beyond the home and into our cars, our offices, our earbuds, our classrooms and even into our healthcare system. A great new way for patients to interact with their doctors, data, medicine and all the other cogs in the healthcare machine. The #VoiceFirst community certainly seems to think this is quite meaningful:

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