Medical Alexa Skills Keep Doctors and Patients In Touch

Post published 4/4/19 – Boston Children’s Hospital released its first Alexa skill for patients and caregivers in 2016, but there haven’t been many more due to the privacy requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Thanks to Amazon’s new HIPAA-eligible developer tools, you’re going to start seeing many more medical Alexa skills.

Amazon takes its customers’ privacy very seriously, and given that a healthcare skill must collect some information from the consumer in order to be truly useful (e.g., symptoms, medical inquiries, etc.) it’s not surprising that Amazon hasn’t approved many healthcare or medical skills for release.

However, it’s become increasingly clear that hospitals, doctors and healthcare staff can provide better and more timely care with an assist from Alexa. In response, Amazon has recently released a special set of tools for developers who want to create these kinds of skills, to ensure the skills remain HIPAA-compliant.

Boston Children’s Hospital Leads The Way

As reported on voice.health, BCH is among the first healthcare providers to take advantage of the opportunity to try the new tools. From the post:


As part of Amazon Alexa’s invite-only HIPAA-eligible environment for skills, Boston Children’s has developed a new Alexa skill designed to support patient discharge after surgery – one component the hospital’s larger Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program. The My Children’s ERAS skill will first be available to parents and caregivers of children that have undergone cardiac surgery. It allows parents and caregivers to conduct remote check-ins through Alexa, providing care teams with updates on their child’s recovery progress, including activity level, appetite, and pain management. Parents and caregivers can also use the skill to access information regarding the child’s upcoming post-op appointments. Simply say, “Alexa, open My Children’s” to get started.

Ultimately, the goal is to support our broader patient population in a very robust and integrated way between their visits at the hospital. Voice is one important medium through which we can do this – and we look forward to expanding these capabilities in the coming months.

Click here to view the My Children’s skill on Amazon’s US site.