Amazon’s Alexa can now order prescription refills and remind people to take their medicine

(GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

Amazon’s digital brain Alexa can now refill prescriptions via voice command and remind people to take their medicine, the latest new initiative in the company’s rapidly expanding healthcare push.

Amazon is teaming with Omnicell, a publicly traded pharmaceutical automation company, and pharmacy chain Giant Eagle for the new voice capability. Amazon plans to expand the program to more pharmacies next year after a learning period following the initial launch.

After downloading the Giant Eagle skill, users say “Alexa, manage my medication” to enter which medicines they take and set regular reminders. Voice commands available through the skill include “Alexa, what medication am I supposed to take right now,” and “Alexa, refill my prescription.”

Because of the sensitive nature of the information, Amazon is requiring users of this skill to create a passcode to attach to their Alexa Voice Profile. Voice interactions with this skill are redacted in the Alexa app to maintain privacy.

Earlier this year, Amazon added the ability to build HIPAA-complaint apps through the Alexa Skills Kit, opening the door for hospitals, insurers, digital health startups and others to manage patient data through voice.

In recent months, Amazon’s push into healthcare has accelerated rapidly. Here are a few of the big moves the company has made recently:

  • In September, the company launched Amazon Care, a primary care service for its employees that combines telemedicine checkups, at-home or in-office doctor’s visits and prescription deliveries through a single program.
  • Six weeks later, Haven Healthcare, the joint venture between Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, unveiled its first major move to disrupt the healthcare industry: new health insurance plans for employees, starting in 2020, that feature wellness incentives and don’t have any deductibles.
  • Earlier this month, Amazon re-branded PillPack, the online pharmacy it acquired for $750 million last year, signifying closer integration into the tech giant’s healthcare operations.

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