Amazon Echo The newHIPAA-compliant skills can perform such actions as assistingcaregivers to deliver team updates and checking the status of homeprescription deliveries. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Amazon is venturing ever deeper into the health care field withsix new HIPAA-compliant skills for its voice assistant Alexa.

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According to Venture Beat, the skills can perform suchactions as assisting caregivers to deliver team updates andchecking the status of home prescription deliveries.

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Other HIPAA-compliant functions available in the Alexa SkillsKit, from health care companies like Cigna, Express Scripts andBoston Children's Hospital, include the Atrium Health Alexa skill,which will allow patients in North Carolina, South Carolina, andGeorgia to schedule same-day appointments. In addition, the Alexaskill from digital health company Livongo not only allows people tocheck recent blood sugar readings but also get personalized healthtips.

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Modern Healthcare reports that the invitation-only program fromAmazon allows certain health care groups, including hospitals andhealth insurers, to develop HIPAA-compliant skills for Alexa.

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Another Alexa option available is from Renton, Washington-basedProvidence St. Joseph Health, and allows Alexa users to scheduleappointments at nearby urgent care centers. According to thereport, users prompt, 'Alexa, open Providence Health Connect,' atwhich point the application will suggest appointment times at theclinic closest to their home.” This capability is available across37 of the health system's West Coast urgent care centers.

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Amazon has already come up with some health care-relatedfunctions for Alexa, including conversational AI health caresolutions that include a smart speaker and assistant for doctors toquery health records and record new information to patient recordsand several health-related Alexa skills that are already availablein the Alexa Skills Store.

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Venture Beat also points out that while Amazon's $200 millionAlexa Fund also backed the Avia health care assistant among investments itmade last fall, these health care skills are exclusively for Alexaspeakers at home. There's already an Alexa for Business, which madeits debut in 2017, as well as new custom templates for Alexa forBusiness voice apps or Blueprints.

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