Amazon could be planning some kind of healthcare initiative involving its Alexa virtual assistant, according to a report from GeekWire, which discovered a job opening in Amazon's Alexa Information Group for a "HIPAA Compliance Lead," a position possibly connected to regulatory compliance related to storage and use of personal health data.
The report found the reference to the Alexa Information group was later removed after GeekWire asked Amazon about the job opening. The e-commerce giant didn't respond to further questions from the publication.
The job advertisement comes after rumors that Amazon has been weighing entry into the pharmacy market and evaluating potential healthcare-related initiatives, including a possible telemedicine venture.
Other details of the job opening suggested that Amazon is looking for candidates familiar with the regulatory process for getting new technology devices and software services approved for market introduction, according to GeekWire.
It's all very intriguing, but there's not enough detail to determine what Amazon might be up to.
It certainly sounds like an Alexa-related project, though even that assumption leaves a lot to the imagination. The project could have a number of applications: For example, an Echo-like device designed specifically for healthcare applications or a project aimed at adding Alexa into medical devices. Then there's also the question of whether the project would be targeted at professional medical settings or for use in a patient's home.
New Alexa-related job postings aren't surprising in and of themselves, as reports circulated last fall that the e-commerce leader was set to hire hundreds of engineers to work on a variety of Alexa-related projects. Amazon has made similarly vague allusions in the past to projects that sound a bit off-center on paper (remember the drone-docking blimp?).
While Amazon hasn't confirmed much about the initiative yet, it seems like yet another attempt by the company to expand Alexa's purview and give its virtual assistant more opportunities to engrain itself in our daily lives. Indeed, we're seeing evidence of that aim on an increasingly frequent basis. Just recently, reports surfaced that Alexa could be on its way to becoming a thinking machine, capable of offering opinions alongside facts — and the virtual assistant is also set to move into computers, cars and toilets.
Many retailers are just warming up to the potential effects that conversational commerce could have on shopping, and while Amazon has led the way with voice technology, it appears the company could be playing a much more complicated game, on a bigger game board with bigger stakes, than everyone else in the sector.