Amazon’s Alexa, the virtual voice assistant sitting in many a living room – roughly 8 million households, that is – may soon also sit in many hospital rooms or physician’s offices. Amazon’s new “health & wellness” team, for instance, aims to make Alexa a valuable health and healthcare tool for all. (It is perhaps no coincidence the global voice recognition market is estimated to reach nearly $127 billion market within the next six years.) But massive challenges – such as HIPAA restrictions and data regulations – may hinder Alexa’s potential to collect, streamline, and make sense of real-time patient data.Here are four examples of Alexa’s potential to advance EHRs:
Alexa’s Replacing Recording Devices
According to a DRG survey, 31 percent of physicians – many with a voice assistant already found on their cell phones – already use a specific voice assistant tool, such as Amazon Echo. And, a reported 21 percent of those surveyed use a voice assistant program that is tied to some part of their Electronic Health Record (EHR). A physician who can operate on a patient while delivering instructions to Alexa, checking a patient’s vital signs, or looking up a piece of literature – all handsfree, without interruption – is merely one advantage of Alexa-EHR integration.
Alexa and Consumer Engagement
Kaledia Health, one of Western New York’s biggest healthcare providers, is integrating the Internet of Things (IoT) with EHRs to improve patient experience. Their solution? An IoT wayfinding tool integrated into Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) so patients can do things like schedule upcoming appointments. Alexa is also being used at Northwell Health to help patients figure out which nearby emergency room has the shortest wait time.
Alexa and EHR Services
Physicians spend much of their workdays staring at EHRs, and often use a tape recorder to transcribe their spoken words into EHR data. Similarly, Alexa’s voice-to-text capabilities are helping advance EHR integration. Companies such as Nuance and M*Modal are just a few offering dictation software designed for physicians.
Alexa and Big Data in Healthcare
Alexa’s lack of HIPAA compliance is problematic. Yet, some companies are finding intelligent workarounds. For instance, Lenovo announced an agreement with Amazon to allow patients and care teams to communicate via Alexa. Data from a patient’s wearable device, for instance, can be integrated into an EHR platform. This will perhaps enable more care to happen beyond the four walls of a medical clinic.