DIGITAL HEALTH BRIEFING: Amazon is building a health team f…

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Amazon is building a health and wellness team within its
voice-assistant Alexa division,
to CNBC. The team will focus on new features geared
toward diabetes management, and care for mothers and seniors.

The move isn’t surprising — Amazon has taken several
steps over the past year to expand the health capabilities of its
voice assistant:

  • Amazon partnered with pharmaceutical giant Merck last year to
    launch the Alexa Diabetes Challenge, in which challengers
    developed Alexa skills (i.e. voice apps) that make it easier for
    Alexa users to manage their diabetes symptoms.
  • The company
    a job listing for an expert on the Health Insurance
    Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) earlier this year,
    likely to explore Alexa’s potential role in the healthcare
  • Earlier this year, Amazon was reportedly developing Alexa
    features that target seniors. The growing US senior population
    means there’s a large market for in-home elderly care, including
    chronic illness management and medication-adherence services.

As Amazon ramps up its healthcare efforts, it makes sense
for the company to use Alexa to spearhead its consumer health
Here’s why:

  • The platform has a ready-made community of voice
    developers to build health skills for Alexa.
    developers could help build up a robust ecosystem of
    health-related skills, making Alexa a valuable health tool for
  • The platform has broad reach within US homes.
    Eleven percent of US consumers use Alexa in their home,

    to NPR.
  • Consumers are already comfortable turning to Alexa for
    health-related voice queries.
    The KidsMD skill, which
    allows parents to ask for guidance on common
    illnesses, has logged more than 100,000
    interactions with Amazon’s voice assistant,
    to Harvard Business Review.

Nevertheless, there are several regulatory obstacles
Amazon must navigate before it can roll out Alexa as a health and
wellness tool.
Alexa still isn’t HIPAA compliant, and
the team will have to contend with complex data privacy
regulations before a new build comes to market. But this might
not be a long-term problem. Missy Krasner, one of the team’s key
members, played an instrumental role in acquiring HIPAA
compliance at Box, her previous employer, CNBC notes. Further,
the voice assistant will need to adhere to the Children’s Online
Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits online services from
gathering data on children under 13 without parental consent.
While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) loosened its position on
voice assistants collecting audio files from children earlier
this year, the FTC’s stance on more regulated personal health
data is unclear.

bii amazon's healthcare timeline

Insider Intelligence

HLTH 2018 ROUNDUP: The first-ever HLTH
conference — a stage for healthcare organizations and tech
companies to introduce their plans to disrupt health, drive up
patient engagement, and lower costs — capped off in Las Vegas
last week. The main theme of the conference was health data
interoperability, with several companies unveiling their
solutions during the week.

Here are the three biggest interoperability announcements
from the conference:

  • Fitbit spoke on its deepening efforts within
    healthcare, hinged on making wearable data more accessible to
    clinicians and health systems.
    This includes its
    involvement with the government’s All of US population health
    initiative, and a
    of new smartwatch apps and watch faces to enhance the
    ability for consumers to monitor their health and share it with
  • Change Healthcare isteaming up with Adobe and
    Microsoft to enable health systems to better engage with
    The joint solution will use Change
    Healthcare’s Intelligent Healthcare Network, Adobe’s Experience
    Cloud, and Microsoft’s Azure offering to improve customers’
    healthcare experience.
  • Redox, a US health IT startup,announcedits branded Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource
    (FHIR) API.
    The company aims to use the electronic
    health record (EHR) standard to help health systems pull and
    share data between facilities. The FHIR standard is also used
    by Apple’s
    Health app
    to allow US consumers to store and share their
    health data with partnered physicians.

Nomad Health, an employment site for health
systems, is expanding its services to include full-time job
to Business Wire. The service aims to reduce the
cost of hiring full-time clinicians for hospitals in the US,
which have historically leaned heavily on brokers for new hires,

to Barron’s. These brokers can charge up to 40% of
the new hires’ hourly fees, which can quickly add up. Nomad’s
flat fee on permanent hires, specialist or otherwise, means
providers can save tens of thousands of dollars compared with
using percentage-based recruiters. Furthermore, full-time doctors
are particularly important for hospitals to hire quickly. When a
hospital is short a primary care physician, for example, it not
only loses out on revenue from patients, but also on all the
resources spent searching for and onboarding a new doctor. The
Nomad platform promotes a fast turn-around for organizations
looking to fill a position. The offering comes at an optimal time
for the US health system. With the US shortage of physicians

at 120,000 by 2030, demand for a cheap, streamlined
hiring process will grow.

NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP) is expanding the
telemedicine-equipped ambulances in its fleet after a trial
period yielded cost savings,
to Healthcare IT News. The video-conferencing tech
allows a neurologist to remotely monitor stroke victims, and to
direct the onboard clinical team to administer the appropriate
tests and treatment en route to the hospital. The ability to
communicate via video, as opposed to just a phone, helps both
medical providers and patients by giving doctors and specialists
more information about the patient’s condition before they arrive
at the hospital. Paramedics can use this information to identify
the best hospital to bring patients to based on their condition
and the hospital’s specialty. By connecting specialists to
patients more quickly, providers can reduce the time taken to
diagnose, treat, and ultimately discharge a patient. Northwestern
Medicine in Chicago has also
positive results from deploying telemedicine in its
stroke response units.bii US telehealth forecastBusiness Insider Intelligence

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