Alexa, the voice of Amazon's smart devices, started out as a home-based assistant. She could turn on your lights, start your playlist, and otherwise control your smart home.
Soon enough, Alexa found a home at the office. She could field phone calls, take messages, order office supplies. With the right software, she could even track lawyers' billable hours.
Now Alexa is going into healthcare. It's a big deal for hospitals because they have to be extra careful with patient data, and Alexa has been known to tell tales.
Amazon announced that developers are creating HIPAA-compliant healthcare services using Alexa. She will be able to answer questions for customers, book appointments, access discharge instructions, and check the status of prescriptions.
The company did a test-run with Amazon smart speakers in patient rooms at Cedars-Sinai. TechCrunch reported it was "a significant step for Amazon."
Ever since Alexa debuted, she has been a runaway favorite among digital assistants. Apple and Google have niches, but lag behind Amazon in the market for smart devices at home and the office.
Lawyers, too, have found a place for Alexa. She can read documents, calendar events, send messages, and even track hours and send out bills.
Now Amazon is targeting healthcare. In the last year, the company has acquired an online pharmacy and launched a machine learning tool that gathers medical information for patient records.
Alexa Will Hear You Now
The Alexa innovation offers more efficient -- and potentially more affordable -- healthcare. There are, of course, questions.
Will Alexa protect patient information from unauthorized users? Will she be cybersecure? Will she tell on you?
Seriously, Alexa has been known to spy on people because she listens 24/7. She has even narced on unsuspecting suspects. In more than one case, lawyers have been able to use her stored data in criminal cases.
Despite the privacy concerns, Amazon is confident it will be able to protect healthcare information. And if there are more questions, Alexa will probably answer them.