Amazon Echo and its future in healthcare

Image courtesy of the Amazon Media Room

I fell hard for Amazon Echo when I bought the first one for my home office. It kicked off a new hobby for me in tinkering with smart home technologies. Alexa is hooked up to lights around my house. I also have plans for more smart home projects in 2017. Lately, I’ve been doing some practical thinking about how Amazon Echo could influence the future of healthcare.

While I watched my own health insurance rates sky rocket, ObamaCare exchanges implode, and the lack of accountability for it all I’ve come to expect from our politicians, I do see a glimmer of hope in the creative applications of technology in healthcare especially in elder care and telehealth might help fix some of the damage being done by our politicians to the health insurance system in this country.

In particular, I’ve very interested in the potential of Amazon Alexa for medication reminders and other alerts for the elderly. Even Jeff Bezos sees a big future for Alexa in healthcare. There are already some Alexa users coming up with ingenious ways to use Alexa to care for their disabled and aging family members including opening up the family member’s world to audio books and being able to monitor the family member’s interactions with Alexa throughout the day.

On a related note, when QVC first began to sell to Amazon Alexa, I saw it as the device crossing a major adoption hurdle taking the device beyond early adopters, techies, and e-commerce die hards into a whole new audience. When Alexa gets into an even wider customer base, the charm of Alexa skills gives way to practical home applications and opens the door even further into potential healthcare applications.

David E. Williams in Amazon Echo’s Alexa has great potential in healthcare points out it’s a device that patients and doctors can use equally well and that a patient could use the same device at home that was used in the hospital. Alexa is hands free (a bonus for the elderly and injured.

While I did a quick search through the skills available in the Alexa app. I would describe the Health & Fitness category is still growing. However, I think I might have gotten a step ahead of myself. The Alexa Fund and some of the projects its funding or will fund are going to help dictate a lot about the future of Alexa in healthcare.

Final thoughts

What I think will be interesting to see if Amazon Web Services (AWS) and healthcare IT firms begin to build services offering around Amazon Alexa. That’ll be an inflection point when I think Amazon Alexa’s healthcare future will be undeniable. Alexa could join the league of other technologies like wearables to help improve healthcare outcomes.

Do you see a future for Alexa in healthcare? Why? Why not?


Hi! My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve worked with clients like NetApp, Dell, and NeuStar to develop technical, training, and thought leadership content. My articles have been published by TechBeacon, Projects@Work, CNET TechRepublic, Network World, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com, and others. Follow me on Twitter:@willkelly.