In the past few years, digital assistants and voice commands have guided entertainment choices, answered doors, checked the weather, and handled dozens of other simple tasks. Now, Amazon is hoping customers will utilize this technology to help with managing their medications.
The company recently announced that customers will now be able to request prescription refills and set medication reminders with pharmacy information, all by speaking to Alexa-enabled devices.
“Many customers were using Alexa to remind them to take medications on a regular basis,” Rachel Jiang, the head of Alexa’s Health and Wellness team, wrote in a blog post. “We continued to think about how we could track and manage their health and wellness from home.”
At the moment, only customers of Giant Eagle, a regional chain with 200 stores in states like Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, can take part in the newly unveiled services, which will require setting up an Alexa voice profile and linking to a Giant Eagle pharmacy account.
Once setup has been completed, users can simply say, “Alexa, manage my medication” to set up daily reminders, can double-check which pills they should be taking, and can say, “Alexa, refill my prescription” for easy refills.
Privacy issues have also been considered, as the company had already announced HIPAA-compliant features earlier this year and uses multiple layers of verification to ensure customer data and information is secure. Voice recognition and a separate passcode are required, and customers can delete recordings on their privacy settings page at any time.
Only the beginning
“This new technology is just the beginning, as we continue to identify straightforward and easy-to-use pharmacy tasks that voice-powered devices can perform in the real world,” Danny Sanchez, vice president and general manager at Omnicell, told Amazon.
Although Alexa trailed Google’s Assistant in comprehending and recognizing medication names when spoken by customers, Amazon’s push into simplifying prescription management is an additional tool to help adults, and seniors, who routinely take prescription medications.
“We’ll learn a lot from this initial launch,” Jiang said, “and we’ll continue to evolve the experience and expect to expand to additional pharmacies next year.”