Members of Anthem's commercial medical and dental health plans can now access benefit information through Amazon's voice assistant Alexa, the insurance giant announced Wednesday.
Previously, Anthem's Alexa application had been limited to sharing general information, like common health insurance terms and member updates. As of Wednesday, the application—first released about two years ago—can offer members access to more tailored information, which they would otherwise get on a member portal or by calling an agent.
"Now, we're able to essentially provide more personal information," said Rajeev Ronanki, Anthem's senior vice president and chief digital officer.
To use the application, a member would download the Alexa skill onto their device and log in using their Anthem ID and password. From there, a member can ask the voice assistant questions about their health plan benefits, such as for progress on meeting their plan's deductible or health savings account balance, as well as complete tasks like requesting a prescription refill.
Alexa will only be able to provide users with information about their current Anthem-affiliated health plan through the application. It doesn't corral information from previous health plans.
Members' interactions with the Alexa application comply with HIPAA, the federal rules that restrict release of medical information, according to Anthem.
To safeguard members' health information, Anthem's Alexa application verifies members by their voice as well as with multi-factor authentication methods like confirming a pass code sent to a user's cell phone, Ronanki said.
Alexa has been a cornerstone of Amazon's move into the healthcare sector.
In March, Amazon added a service that lets Alexa users ask for information about common medications, such as their side effects and possibly harmful interactions with other drugs. Amazon last year released a medication-management application and launched a program for healthcare companies to develop applications that comply with HIPAA.
Anthem said it plans to update its application later this year so that members of its vision plans can also access information with the voice assistant.