Amazon steps up Alexa’s healthcare information skills


Amazon’s healthcare ambitions for Alexa took a big step forward this month with the announcement that its smart speaker can now handle health information compliantly.

As a demonstration of this the company has partnered with a range of healthcare providers, payers, pharmacy benefit managers and digital health coaching companies to launch six new Alexa healthcare 'skills'.

Rachel Jiang, head of Alexa Health & Wellness, said: “Every day developers are inventing with voice to build helpful and convenient experiences for their customers.

“These new skills are designed to help customers manage a variety of healthcare needs at home simply using voice – whether it’s booking a medical appointment, accessing hospital post-discharge instructions, checking on the status of a prescription delivery and more.”

Amazon Alexa EchoThe capability allows Alexa to transmit and receive health information in a compliant manner under the data privacy and security provisions of the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

So far it’s only available as part of an invite-only programme, to which Amazon has brought on board pharmacy services organisation Express Scripts, health service company Cigna, Boston Children's Hospital, healthcare networks Providence St. Joseph Health and Atrium Health, digital health company Livongo.

These new Alexa healthcare skills allow:

  • Express Scripts members to check the status of a home delivery prescription
  • Eligible employees with one of Cigna's large national accounts to manage their health improvement goals
  • Parents and carers of children at Boston Children's Hospital to provide their care teams with updates on recovery progress and receive information regarding post-op appointments
  • Providence St. Joseph Health customers to find a local urgent care centre and schedule a same-day appointment
  • Atrium Health customers to find an urgent care location near them and schedule a same-day appointment
  • Livongo members to query their last blood sugar reading, blood sugar measurement trends, and receive insights and personalised ‘health nudges’.

Stephen Cassell, senior vice president of global brand and customer communications at Cigna, said: “With our industry-leading voice skills, we are meeting customers where they are – in their homes, in their cars - and making it simpler to create healthier habits and daily routines.

“Through our Amazon Alexa skill, customers can simply use voice to understand the full range of their health benefits and receive personalized wellness incentives for meeting their health goals, empowering them to take control of their total health.”