Last April, I published a blog about potentially using cloud-based voice services, such as Amazon Echo (Alexa) or Google Home, to serve as artificial intelligence (AI) when seeking a healthcare diagnosis based on symptoms we experience. By merely sharing our medical symptoms with a smart-voice service, we could receive a diagnosis that is based on the latest peer-reviewed medical literature available.
As pointed out in the blog, one cautionary note about using such a tool was the ‘legal liability hurdles,’ such as being HIPAA-compliant (a U.S. health privacy law) – making sure that our private-patient information is being securely transmitted.
This particular hurdle appears to have been cleared. On April 4, the publication STAT reported that Amazon unveiled HIPAA-compliant software allowing pre-selected healthcare companies to build Alexa voice-program tools giving patients access to personalized information such as progress updates after surgery, prescription delivery notifications, in addition to learning nearby urgent care facility locations. Health firms can use Amazon’s Alexa Skill Kit to build voice programs that can create products to transmit and receive patient data.
As mentioned in STAT, “The move will embolden hospitals, insurers, and other healthcare firms to expose Alexa to more sensitive details of patients’ lives and medical conditions, and potentially embed the technology deeper into clinical settings.”
Developments like this one may not be highly-visible to the casual observer, however, it might be similar to a simple mist that ultimately results in a torrential downpour, causing a Tsunami of change. Who knows, perhaps in just a few short years, ‘Alexa’ and other cloud-based services may actually simplify our daily lives that, today, seem complex and frustratingly lost in unchartered waters.
Hold on tight for the next rush of change that will no doubt disrupt how we will eventually live.
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