New Alexa Skills and PHI: What You Need to Know
Amazon’s voice-recognition AI assistant Alexa is now capable of performing health-related tasks in compliance with HIPAA privacy standards. Alexa can transmit and receive protected health information, allowing for the development of new skills that aim to give patients greater control over their healthcare.
In fact, several healthcare payers, pharmacy benefit managers, and digital health coaching companies have already released new uses for Alexa on the heels of Amazon’s announcement. These companies include Express Scripts, Cigna, and Boston Children’s Hospital. The new skills promise to improve medication adherence, help patients manage and understand their benefits, and facilitate patient recovery and follow-up from the care team post-surgery.
Alexa comes pre-programed with a variety of abilities, or “skills,” directly out of the box. Technically, anyone can write an Alexa skill to expand the robot’s capabilities. The most commonly used additional skills are those that allow for interaction with smart devices and websites, help manage personal subscriptions, or provide further information and education to users.
Rachel Jiang, head of Amazon’s Health & Wellness team, noted that Amazon is keeping a tight lid on their HIPAA-eligible environment for now. “Amazon Alexa is currently providing a HIPAA eligible environment to select skill developers as part of an invite-only program in the U.S. In the future, we expect to enable additional developers to access this capability to build healthcare skills, allowing more customers to access healthcare services more conveniently using voice.”
These skills leverage technology already existing in patient’s homes in a secure manner compliant with existing privacy regulations to give patients more control over their own health. Proponents of Alexa’s new healthcare skills hope to prevent patient readmissions by providing a secure solution that helps communicate progress to the entire care team.
As AI integration accelerates at a rapid pace, Exscribe is looking forward to implementing practical and innovative solutions to detangle the complexity of healthcare processes. CEO Ranjan Sachdev recently completed a certification in Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Business Strategy, from the MIT Sloan School of Management. The possibilities AI affords to improve EHRs and PM systems are endless, and Exscribe is exploring how to be the first dedicated orthopaedic EHR to offer these types of solutions in the future.