If for some reason you thought there wasn’t anything else Amazon could tap into, you’d be wrong. As of last week, Amazon’s popular digital assistant, Alexa, which the company claims is now HIPAA compliant – marking a giant step forward in the company’s entrance to the healthcare industry. With Alexa’s new health skills, consumers will be able to use voice commands such as “Alexa, find me a doctor” and receive a prompt, personalized response in return.

“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,” wrote Rachel Jiang, Head of Alexa Health and Wellness.

So, what all can you expect? According to an Amazon blog post, there are six specific new health and wellness skills coming to an Alexa near you:

Express Scripts – Members can check the status of their home delivery for prescriptions and enable notifications for when their medication has shipped.

Cigna Health Today – Eligible employees can manage their health improvement goals and increase opportunities to earn personalized wellness incentives.

My Children’s Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) – Parents and caregivers of children in the ERAS program at Boston Children’s Hospital can provide their team with updates on the recovery process and receive information about their post-op appointments.

Swedish Health Connect – Customers can locate nearby urgent care centers and schedule same day appointments.

Atrium Health – Customers in North and South Carolina can locate nearby urgent care locations and schedule same day appointments.

Livongo – Members can ask for their most recent blood sugar reading, blood sugar measurement trends and receive personalized insights and health nudges.

Why This Matters – 

Digital assistants are on the rise. Not only are they popping up in our homes, but they’re emerging in our hospitals as well – giving healthcare brands a new way to connect with their customers. But, what could this specifically mean for pharma? Alexa’s voice activated AI platform may open the door to a new channel for creating and delivering content. Although, it comes with one important consideration:

“Today, you can already create a pharma skill that does medication tracking and doesn't send data anywhere. But what we found is that patients don’t want those skills. They want a skill that is connected, that is going somewhere and that someone can actually do something with the data,” said Anne Weiler, CEO of Wellpepper.

As Amazon continues to move forward signing business associate agreements with health care providers under HIPAA, pharma brands can connect with their customers by working with partners already on the platform. If it’s done right, Alexa could be the start of a new innovative way to reach customers digitally.

“For example, drugmakers might provide the content for a drug search skill used in a doctor’s office. Instead of the physician handing the patient a sheet of information about a given drug, the doctor and patient could listen to drug information provided by the manufacturer together during an office visit,” explained Weiler.

About the Author:

Khye Tucker is an Innovation Strategist in Columbus, OH. With a passion for writing and a background in communications, Khye strives to bring brand stories to life through a fresh perspective, innovative thinking and creative storytelling.