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Six new HIPAA compliant Alexa skills have been launched by Amazon that allow protected health information to be transmitted without violating HIPAA Rules.
The new HIPAA compliant Alexa skills were developed by six different companies that have participated in the Amazon Alexa healthcare program. The new skills allow patients to schedule appointments, find urgent care centers, receive updates from their care providers, access their latest blood sugar reading, and check the status of their prescriptions.
This is not the first time that Alexa skills have been developed, but a stumbling block has been the requirements of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which limit the use of voice technology with protected health information. Now, thanks to HIPAA compliant data transfers, the voice assistant can now be used by a select group of healthcare organizations to communicate PHI without violating the HIPAA Privacy Rule. You can read more about the issues related to virtual assistants and HIPAA compliance here.
Amazon has stated that it plans to work with many other developers through an invite-only program to develop new skills to use within its HIPAA-eligible environment. Amazon is offering those organizations business associate agreements to meet HIPAA requirements. The initial roll-out has been limited to six new HIPAA compliant Alexa skills as detailed below:
New HIPAA Compliant Alexa Skills
The purpose of the new skills is to allow patients, caregivers, and health plan members to use Amazon Alexa to manage their healthcare at home through voice commands. The skills make it easier for patients to perform healthcare-related tasks, access their health data, and interact with their providers.
The six new HIPAA compliant Alexa skills are:
Members of the Express Scripts pharmacy services organization can check the status of a home delivery prescription and can ask Alexa to send notifications when prescriptions have been shipped and when they arrive at their door.
Cigna Health Today
Employees who have been enrolled in a Cigna health plan can use this Alexa skill to check wellness program goals, receive health tips, and access further information on rewards.
My Children’s Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS)
Parents and caregivers of children enrolled in Boston Children’s Hospital’s ERAS program can send updates to their care teams on recovery progress. Care teams can also send information on post-op appointments and pre- and post-op guidance. Initially, the skill is being used in relation to cardiac surgery patients, although the program will be expanded in the near future.
Livongo Blood Sugar Lookup
Participants in Livongo’s Diabetes Program can query their latest blood sugar reading from their device, check blood sugar monitoring trends such as their weekly average reading, and receive personalized health tips through their Alexa device.
Atrium Health’s new Alexa skill allows patients to find urgent care locations near them and schedule same-day appointments, find out about opening hours, and current waiting times. Initially the Alexa skill is being offered to customers in North and South Carolina.
Swedish Health Connect
Providence St. Joseph Health has created an Alexa skill that allows patients to find Swedish Express Care Clinics in their vicinity and schedule same day appointments at 37 of its locations on the west coast.