Alexa is HIPAA Ready!

Remember how scared you were when you heard about HIPAA? Remember how you were going to get sued, fined or lose your license because you may mention a patient by name or talk to them in the supermarket with the possibility of someone listening? Well, in another example of double standards:

Alexa can now transfer sensitive, personal health information using software that meets health-privacy requirements under federal law. Five companies, including insurer Cigna Corp. , diabetes-management company Livongo Health Inc. and major hospital systems, said they developed new Alexa features for consumers using the federal protocol. The features let Alexa perform tasks such as scheduling urgent-care appointments, tracking when drugs are shipped, checking health-insurance benefits or reading blood-sugar results.

No worries, right? We can trust Amazon, Cigna, Livongo, and so on to be private but doctors? No way. Just another example of how big money talks and the power some companies wield.

Here is the funny part. Not long after the first article there was this one: Inc. employs thousands of people around the world to help improve the Alexa digital assistant powering its line of Echo speakers. The team listens to voice recordings captured in Echo owners’ homes and offices. The recordings are transcribed, annotated and then fed back into the software as part of an effort to eliminate gaps in Alexa’s understanding of human speech and help it better respond to commands.

So… chance of this going bad, huh? I am sure all medical information is safe.

But let’s hammer the doctors for any mistakes they make. That’s fair.

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Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  1 comment for “Alexa is HIPAA Ready!

  1. PW
    April 16, 2019 at 9:01 am

    If anyone thinks their personal medical information is safe these days, I have some lovely beachfront property in the Mojave dessert to sell you.

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