A new, invite-only program from Amazon allows select healthcare groups—including hospitals and health insurers—to develop HIPAA-compliant skills for its voice assistant, Alexa.
Developers who participate in the program, including HIPAA-covered entities and their business associates, are able to build voice skills that transmit protected health information in Amazon Alexa's HIPAA-eligible environment.
Amazon announced the service in a blog post Thursday, with information about the first six skills to be developed as part of the program.
One of the HIPAA-compliant skills, developed by Renton, Wash.-based Providence St. Joseph Health, allows Alexa users to schedule appointments at nearby urgent care centers. Users prompt, "Alexa, open Providence Health Connect," at which point the application will suggest appointment times at the clinic closest to their home.
The scheduling capability is available across 37 of the health system's urgent care centers on the West Coast.
"We're excited to be one of the first health systems in the U.S. to build Alexa skills that help our patients connect to our providers and get faster access to care," Aaron Martin, chief digital officer at Providence St. Joseph Health, said in a statement.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health released a similar urgent care locator and scheduling service as part of Amazon Alexa's new service.
Livongo—the digital health company tackling chronic conditions while scooping up former executives from Allscripts and Cerner—has also built a new skill as part of the HIPAA-compliant service. Alexa users can now ask the voice assistant to pull up their last blood glucose reading and to provide personalized health tips, according to the company.
"In providing seamless health insights while our members are preparing meals or about to exercise, Livongo can more effectively drive positive behavior change," Dr. Jennifer Schneider, Livongo's president, said in a statement.
The three other initial program participants are Boston Children's Hospital, Cigna and Express Scripts.