by Martha Maranzani
Voice technology has huge potential in health care, promising to make it more accessible to consumers and to help healthcare professionals (HCPs) save time and money in their practices. Amazon has taken the next step toward fulfilling that potential by announcing that Alexa is now HIPAA compliant and launching the first HIPAA-compliant Alexa skills this week. This means that Alexa can now manage patients’ protected health information through these new skills.
The new HIPAA-compliant skills allow users to do such things as check their blood sugar levels, find urgent care centers and schedule appointments, and even help parents and caregivers of children recovering from surgery keep in touch with their doctors post-discharge. The difference between these skills and other existing voice health skills is that while other skills offer generalized wellness advice on conditions or managing one’s health, these new skills can communicate data to the patients’ physicians and offer personalized health tips based on the patients’ actual lab values from connected devices. This personalization can drive better outcomes since the output is tailored to each individual patient based on their own health data.
This personalization can drive better outcomes since the output is tailored to each individual patient based on their own health data.
As such, Alexa’s new HIPAA compliance should serve as a catalyst for pharma companies who were previously hesitant to jump into the voice technology space due to patient privacy concerns. However, as with the mobile app revolution a decade ago, brands shouldn’t just start creating voice skills because they now have the technology to do so. They should be thoughtful about what specific challenge voice technology can solve for patients and HCPs, then design the skill to solve that challenge. Voice skills must be designed with the understanding that they are only one part of managing a patient’s health and they should integrate smoothly into a patient’s or an HCP’s existing process.
From clinical trial recruitment to enabling patients to manage their own care to enhancing the physician-patient dialogue, HIPAA-compliant voice technology can connect disparate aspects of a patient’s care and allow all that data to be easily accessible to patients and HCPs alike. This will open the door to a vast new world of health-related voice applications that can revolutionize the face of health care.