Analysis: Amazon Alexa's biggest healthcare problem? It's not HIPAA compliant

As Amazon tries to work its way into healthcare, one key technology faces a big problem: its personal assistant, Alexa, is not yet HIPAA compliant, according to an analysis by CNBC digital health reporter Christina Farr.

Alexa, Amazon's voice technology, creates ample opportunity for physicians and health systems. For example, it could be used as for a remote patient monitoring or to help physicians transcribe notes during patient visits.

While not all health app developers are subject to HIPAA, covered entities and their business associates must be compliant. This means developers can, for example, train Alexa to recommend advice related to health and wellness, but not record patient's health data in a hospital setting, according to Ms. Farr.

Amazon acknowledged this problem at its "Alexa Diabetes Challenge" event Monday in New York City. The competition invited a series of partners to promote uses for Alexa that would benefit patients with diabetes.

"While Alexa and Lex [the technology powering Alexa] are not HIPAA-eligible, this [challenge] has provided us an opportunity to envision what is possible," said Amazon Web Services' healthcare and life sciences lead Oxana Pickeral, as reported by Ms. Farr.  

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