Dr. John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, which uses one the the new healthcare features, says that: “From our view, [Alexa’s data protection] makes for great opportunity in healthcare, because what we’re trying to do is make it easier for patients to access information, easier for patients to track their health and easier for patients to interact with their healthcare system”.
Artificial-intelligence assistant meets privacy rules, giving device a potential daily role with patients. New features let Alexa schedule urgent-care appointments, check health-insurance benefits, read blood-sugar results and handle other health-care tasks.
Amazon, which launched the program on Thursday, said the skills are all compliant with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which ensures that personal health care information is protected.
“Our view is we’re trying to make things as simple for our patients as possible and bridge the gap with how people engage with us in the hospital, but also at home,” John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, said in an interview. “As these technologies become natural and easy to engage with, it's a great opportunity for us to utilize them to provide to the best possible patient experience.”
Boston Children’s Hospital is also using the device to allow parents to give its care teams updates on a sick child’s recovery and allow patients to schedule appointments. Livongo, a digital health company specialising in chronic conditions, will integrate Alexa with the rest of their devices, allowing members to query their blood sugar readings and receive personalised “health nudges” on the device.
Amazon today announced a limited number of voice apps for the Alexa Skills Kit by health care companies like Cigna and Boston Children’s Hospital that operate in compliance with the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
Amazon unveiled software on Thursday that allows health care companies to build Alexa voice tools capable of securely transmitting private patient information, a move that opens the door to a broad array of uses in homes and hospitals.
In a statement to WIRED, Amazon said that while the company applies multiple layers of security to all skill data—including encryption, access controls, and secure storage in the Amazon cloud—the health care skills data will be treated differently to meet HIPAA requirements. The company did not specify what additional measures are in place to ensure that users’ personal health information is properly identified and access to it is controlled and properly audited.
Now, Boston Children’s has a new HIPAA-compliant skill dubbed “ERAS” for kids and their families that are discharged from the hospital. Through Alexa’s voice assistant, patients and caregivers can ask specific questions about their case from the care team, and doctors can remotely check in on the child’s recovery process.
The announcement is Amazon’s latest effort in making inroads into the nation’s $3.5 trillion health care market.