Amazon launches HIPAA-compliant Alexa skills for healthcare

For its part, Amazon is providing the HIPAA-eligible environment in which the new healthcare-related skills are built.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

Amazon's AI-enabled digital assistant Alexa is adding to its Skills repertoire with a handful of HIPAA-compliant healthcare services. The e-commerce giant announced on Thursday that it's partnered with six companies, including healthcare providers, to offer a series of Alexa Skills that allow users to consult their digital assistant with a range of health-focused inquiries. 

The new skills are part of an invite-only program that Amazon said allows only select covered entities and business associates subject to HIPAA (the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) to create specialized skills for healthcare-related services. For its part, Amazon is providing the HIPAA-eligible environment in which the skills are built -- and the company will most certainly use this environment to add more healthcare-related skills over time.

The corporate partnerships announced today are with prescription delivery provider Express Scripts; Cigna Health Today, a wellness incentive program for Cigna healthcare customers; ERAS, a children's post-op recovery program operated by Boston Children's Hospital; two urgent care locator services, one by Providence St. Joseph Health and another from Atrium Health; and a diabetic blood sugar monitoring service from Livongo. 

This isn't Amazon's only venture into the healthcare space. Last January the company bought PillPack, an online pharmacy startup that ships pre-packaged medications based on prescribed patient dosages. Some time after, Amazon began to allow patients to pay for prescription drugs through their Health Savings Account (HSA) cards or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), directly through Amazon.

Meantime, Amazon's joint healthcare venture in partnership with the CEOs of Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase, now named Haven, is working to develop new technologies and solutions that could reduce overall healthcare costs.

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