Hello Alexa, what pill should I take?
Such a question has become a reality. Amazon’s home artificial intelligence units will now be able to help consumers manage their daily medications. The retail giant has teamed up with supermarket chain Giant Eagle and its “in-store” pharmacies to offer customers the option to create medication alerts as well as refill prescriptions.
Starting today Amazon is launching the Alexa pilot program in more than 200 locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia and Indiana. “We’ll learn a lot from this initial launch and we’ll continue to evolve the experience and expect to expand to additional pharmacies next year,” Rachel Jiang, head of Alexa Health & Wellness, wrote in a blog post announcing the program.
The process to enroll is relatively simple for those well versed in the ways of Alexa. The AI device will walk consumers through the process, including the creation of an Alexa voice profile if one does not already exist. In addition, according to Jiang, users will be asked to “create a personal passcode for an added layer of security and peace of mind.”
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Once the accounts are linked consumers can ask Alexa about their medications, get descriptions and manage reminders simply by saying, “Alexa, manage my medication.” When a reminder is received customers can also ask “Alexa, what medication am I supposed to be taking now?” When users ask a question Alexa will ask for the passcode to provide account security.
“These medication management features use multiple layers of verification to ensure that only you are able to access your prescription information via Alexa,” according to Jiang.
In terms of refilling prescriptions and delivery, Giant Eagle has an existing service.
The launch of the program comes a little over a year after Amazon first filed a patent for Alexa and is just its latest move into the $3.7 trillion health care industry. In the last year, Amazon bought online pharmacy PillPack for $1 billion, placing the online giant squarely against drugstore chains, drug distributors and pharmacy benefit managers. It also teamed up with Aurohealth, a maker of generic pharmaceuticals, to create an exclusive, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals brand called Primary Health.