Alexa, What Are the Early Adopters Up To?

February 28, 2018

// By Jane Weber Brubaker //

Jane Weber BrubakerThe market for voice-controlled smart speakers is hot. The percentage of U.S. Wi-Fi connected households with devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home was up to 12.1 percent as of the end of November, after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, comScore reported. If that doesn’t get your attention, consider the growth rate between June (8.1 percent of U.S. households) and November: a staggering 49 percent.

Healthcare innovators are testing the waters with these popular consumer devices and the digital voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa that go with them. As they explore the possibilities, they are keeping well within the bounds of potential privacy issues. “You can’t do anything that would have any sort of protected [health] information [PHI] in it because Alexa just doesn’t have security for that sort of one-to-one communications,” says Emily Kagan Trenchard, vice president, digital and innovation strategy at Northwell Health.

Cleveland Clinic concurs with the security challenges of a consumer device not specifically designed with PHI or HIPAA in mind. “From a healthcare standpoint, we can’t do online scheduling, for example, if we can’t confirm you have a secure system, and if we can’t confirm the person who’s talking is the patient,” says Matt Bakaitis, director of digital marketing. “That rules out a lot of things we would love to do with the technology, but the technology’s just not there yet.”

So what can you do with Alexa? Both Northwell Health and Cleveland Clinic worked through the challenges and developed solutions to engage with consumers using this new medium. Continue reading to look over their shoulders to see what your organization needs to know.

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