Alexa Steps Into the Healthcare Industry

Amazon recently extended its reach into the $3.5 trillion healthcare market. They unveiled software that allows healthcare companies to build Alexa voice tools capable of securely transmitting private patient information. In other words, HIPAA compliant voice apps.

In addition to this announcement, Amazon also launched six new HIPAA compliant apps for the Alexa Skills Kit. These were created by healthcare companies like Cigna and Boston Children’s Hospital and are designed to help patients do things like:

  • Book an appointment
  • Access hospital post-discharge instructions
  • Help caregivers deliver team updates
  • Check on the status of a prescription delivery
  • Monitor glucose readings
“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.” - Amazon Developer Blog

A New Market for a Still-Emergent Technology

Currently, Amazon’s “HIPAA-eligible environment” for voice-app developers is invite-only. This means developers and companies interested in making their own health care skills must apply to participate. And while Amazon provides the HIPAA-eligible environment for skill building, it’s up to the developers themselves to comply with the applicable laws.

Despite its limited rollout, the healthcare industry is still abuzz with this news. It is exciting to think about the doors that new HIPAA-compliant voice capabilities will open. For instance, the ability to make healthcare more accessible and improve patient experiences and outcomes. (That is, if consumers embrace voice assistants.)

Security Concerns

However, while most of the reactions echo pure excitement, some are already raising concerns about what Alexa’s healthcare skills could mean for patient privacy. Firstly, HIPAA, which governs how providers can share patient data, is meant to work within the healthcare system. Meanwhile, Amazon, which is not a healthcare company, says Alexa can follow HIPAA guidelines and provide secure access to health data. But, can that be believed? With stories circulating about how Amazon listens, records, and sometimes even transmits private customer conversations via Alexa, the privacy concerns may be entirely warranted.

Above all, If you’re a healthcare company how do you feel about this news? What voice capabilities are you dreaming about? Are you worried the intersection of Alexa voice technology and patient privacy?

As a voice app development expert, and an Amazon partner, DevIQ would love to hear where you think the industry’s going and see how we might collaborate together to improve patient lives through HIPAA-compliant technology solutions. Setup a meeting today!


Danny Sánchez

UI/UX Designer at Dev IQ, Men-at-Work fan, and 3D printing guru.