Your voice assistant is also now your home care physician. Or at least, that's the path we're headed down.
Amazon's home assistant Alexa is now capable of providing information pertaining to your health concerns, whether it is locating your nearest doctor or finding out about your blood sugar levels.
CNBC reported that as of Thursday, Amazon is now able to sign business associate agreements with healthcare providers under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
The health privacy law ensures a patient's health history, such as medical diagnoses and pharmaceutical prescriptions, can only be shared between patients and doctors and is kept confidential from third parties.
But now, companies are enabled to transmit such information by invoking Alexa and remain HIPAA-compliant.
This is transformational. Amazon Alexa is now HIPAA-compliant. Tech giant says health data can now be accessed secu… https://t.co/8HkUGjcvWF— Stuart Gilchrist (@Stuart Gilchrist)1554469934.0
Highlight: "This program is specifically designed for you to be able to do things like order your prescriptions,"… https://t.co/2EypZXl5WR— Yahoo Finance (@Yahoo Finance)1554408160.0
Head of Alexa Health announced that six health partners have signed on to participate in the voice program through their systems.
She wrote in Alexa Blogs:
"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."
@verge next it will store social security numbers, fingerprints, and DNA— ASauce[NSA] (@ASauce[NSA])1554434674.0
Where else could we go from here?
@verge ALEXA! AM I DYING?!— Mr. Afflixion (@Mr. Afflixion)1554434503.0
Alexa, “if I smoke, will I die earlier than expected?” https://t.co/pDqIXsXJdm— Strategic HEalth LDR (@Strategic HEalth LDR)1554462129.0
Interest in voice-enabled technology like Alexa has become increasingly favored by the health sector.
One example is the Boston Children's Hospital, which features a new HIPAA-compliant "skill" – or voice program – called "ERAS." Discharged children from the hospital and families can now ask specific questions relating to their case from the care team, and doctors can also check in on a patient's recovery remotely.
All you have to do is holler, "Hey, Alexa," and she will be there.
But skeptics are steering clear.
@caseymross @statnews Trusting Alexa on HIPAA compliance after humans have failed 😳 A firm no for me— SushP (@SushP)1554471617.0
@caseymross @statnews Hard pass— Dr. Obvious (@Dr. Obvious)1554387292.0
@caseymross @statnews Sorry, we left the keystroke counter on and now we have your credit and HEALTH data. But, it'… https://t.co/aOZjNcgZSt— Andy Mosley (@Andy Mosley)1554420604.0
@caseymross @statnews THERE IS NO HIPAA COMPLIANT ALEXA. Patient privacy should NEVER be subject to a third party.… https://t.co/ME7r2suZYo— Unify Labor (@Unify Labor)1554445665.0
@sallyshin @CNBC @chrissyfarr Portable spying device also knows your medical info now too. How convenient— 🤫 (@🤫)1554386827.0
Another company involved in the developing partnership is digital health start-up company called Livongo.
They developed a skill in which diabetic patients with connected glucometers could ask Alexa something like, "Ask Livongo what my my blood glucose reading was from this morning" and get a response.
Livongo's president Jennifer Schneider discussed the advantage Alexa has over using SMS messaging.
"Some of those people might have difficulty reading, or they just have busy lives and it's just an easy option."
While they're at it, they could ask Alexa:
@caseymross @statnews "Alexa, play 'Dr. Feelgood.'"— Cecil Webster MD (@Cecil Webster MD)1554415649.0
Many people have issues over such invasive advancements, but where do you draw the line when it comes to convenient technology meant to improve our overall well being?