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Anthem offers members Alexa voice assistant for prescription refills, other services

Anthem Skill can be used through an Alexa-enabled device such as an Amazon Echo or the Alexa app on a phone.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Members of Anthem's commercial medical and dental health plans can now use Alexa-enabled devices to order prescription refills and look up health plan information.

Anthem Skill can be used through an Alexa-enabled device such as an Amazon Echo or the Alexa app on a phone.

Plan members who want to use the service will need to link Anthem Skill to their Anthem account, using the same ID and password they use to log into Anthem.com or the Anthem mobile app. The information given through Anthem Skill is pulled from the same source as the member portal, so there will be no difference in the information available through these tools.

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After linking their account, customers can ask Alexa questions around the balances in their health savings accounts and health reimbursement accounts; their progress in meeting the plan's deductible; their out-of-pocket maximum; and prescription refills, renewals and order status. They can also schedule, reschedule, and cancel a call back from member services.

Anthem Skill can only access information from a member's current Anthem-affiliated commercial health plan. Members will not be able to access information from other/previous health plans. 

The interactions comply with federal HIPAA privacy rules, and any information stored is done so in an accumulated, de-identified manner.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Consumers increasingly want a personalized and convenient digital healthcare experience.

Many of Anthem's affiliated health plans, such as Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio, are adding Anthem Skill for their commercial health plan members.

Anthem anticipates making health plan information available for its vision plan later this year, along with other updates. 

THE LARGER TREND

The addition of voice-activated member services is the next step in the use of digital technology for a more convenient consumer healthcare experience.

In November 2019, Amazon jumped into the medication-adherence space with a new feature that let users link up their pharmacy prescription information and get reminders about when to take their pills and order refills. 

In March, First Databank, a healthcare vendor, announced that consumers would have access to a wide variety of drug information from FDB through simple queries via Alexa.

ON THE RECORD

"We work every day to create a data-driven, simple, and personal healthcare experience for our members," said Steve Martenet, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio. "Expectations have evolved and people want secure and easy-to-use access to their health information across multiple devices including phones, tablets, computers and virtual assistants. Enhancing the Anthem skill for Alexa is just the latest step in our digital-first approach to healthcare."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com