Amazon’s Alexa now handles patient health information

Amazon has invited six health care companies to build tools using Alexa

Today, Amazon announced that six health care companies and providers will allow customers to access some of their personalized medical information by talking to Alexa-enabled devices. The announcement marks another huge move for Amazon into the health care business.

The main health privacy law in the US — the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) — typically ensures that health information can only be shared between patients and those in the health care system, like doctors or hospitals. In other words, information like medical diagnoses and pharmaceutical prescriptions are not available to third parties. Now, Amazon says it has created a way for companies to transmit this information via Alexa-enabled devices and remain HIPAA-compliant. It invited six health companies to develop voice programs — which Amazon refers to as “skills” — using their systems. This development was earlier reported by CNBC and Stat News.

Leila Amerling