Intelligent Virtual Assistants in Medicine and Continuing Education: Small Devices With Big Concerns and Big Potential

The marketplace has exploded with “smart speakers” for sale, and the media is saturated with advertising for the latest Amazon Echo or Google Home. However, privacy experts have expressed concern that the same companies producing these devices are also known to harvest user data. This can be especially troubling when considering their use in the healthcare setting, due to privacy laws such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). From a privacy perspective, the entity we are truly concerned with is not the smart speaker itself but the cloud-based intelligent virtual assistant (IVA) loaded into these devices. Although IVAs are not yet HIPAA compliant, they have enormous potential for the medical field.


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