- Amazon on Thursday said it had added healthcare skills to its Alexa voice assistant.
- Now, Alexa can schedule doctor’s appointments or track when a prescription is set to be delivered. Amazon’s working with organizations like Providence St. Joseph Health and Express Scripts to start.
- The move to expand Alexa’s skills to include healthcare-based ones comes at a time when Amazon is getting deeper into healthcare.
Alexa can now schedule doctors visits and check on your prescription shipment.
On Thursday, Amazon said that its voice assistant had added healthcare skills. Amazon’s working with organizations like West Coast-based health system Providence St. Joseph Health and pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts to start.
The new skills are compliant with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, the regulation in place to protect the privacy of patients’ health information.
To start, the healthcare skills include:
- Prescription-tracking information, via Express Scripts.
- Some Cigna members can use Alexa to track their health and wellness goals.
- Boston Children’s Hospital is using Alexa to help parents and caregivers give updates to doctors on how their children are recovering after surgery.
- Providence is using it to help patients find nearby urgent care centers and schedule appointments, as is Atrium Health, a health system in North Carolina and South Carolina.
- Digital health company Livongo is using it to link up with the company’s device that tracks blood sugar levels. For instance, users can ask Alexa what their last blood sugar readings were.
"These skills are just the first step in making it easier for customers to manage their healthcare needs using just their voice – we’re excited to see what developers build next," Amazon said in a blog post Thursday.
The move to expand Alexa’s skills comes at a time when Amazon is getting deeper into healthcare. In June 2018, Amazon bought online pharmacy startup PillPack for about $750 million which sent shockwaves through the industry.
Amazon’s also teamed up with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway on a joint healthcare venture geared at improving healthcare for the companies’ employees. The new venture is called Haven and is led by Dr. Atul Gawande.
Analysts have long thought that Alexa would be a good way for Amazon to expand its reach into healthcare.
"We think a natural fit for Amazon could be incorporating its Alexa voice assistant for some health care needs," analysts at Cowen wrote in a January 2018 note.
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