Amazon launches HIPAA-eligible Alexa skills for health care

Amazon today announced a limited number of voice apps for the Alexa Skills Kit by health care companies like Cigna and Boston Children’s Hospital that operate in compliance with the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

Six HIPAA-compliant Alexa skills are available at launch to do things like help caregivers deliver team updates and check the status of home prescription deliveries.

The Atrium Health Alexa skill will allow patients in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to schedule same-day appointments, while the Livongo Alexa skill lets people check recent blood sugar readings.

Developers and companies interested in making their own health care skills must apply to an invite-only Alexa program to participate.

The extension of voice apps and services to HIPAA-compliant environments opens up the possibility that, for example, doctors or nurses could someday use Echo devices to record information to electronic health records, or patients could use the apps to access more information about themselves.

Amazon’s foray into health care follows the introduction of a number of conversational AI health care solutions, including a smart speaker and assistant for doctors to query health records and record new information to patient records and a number of health-related Alexa skills already available in the Alexa Skills Store.

Amazon’s $200 million Alexa Fund also backed the Avia health care assistant as part of a series of investments last fall.

The introduction of Alexa skills for health care is Amazon’s latest step beyond skills made solely for Echo speakers in the home. Alexa for Business from Amazon’s AWS was first introduced in 2017. And templates for custom Alexa for Business voice apps or Blueprints made their debut last week.