‘Can patients use AI devices - like Alexa - during home visits by their physiotherapy service?
The short answer is yes. The CSP’s professional advice service has had a few queries about patient’s use of Alexa (and other similar AI devices) in their homes during visits.
From a technology point of view, such devices allow conversations to be listened to and recorded, with the content of these conversations helping improve the service they provide to users. Most have the ability to control the settings to control the extent to which this occurs.
From our understanding of the legal point of view, where data is captured and recorded in domestic private property, data laws do not apply and individual homeowners can do what they like. So essentially, physiotherapy staff can’t object to the use of these devices in a patient’s home.
Before having any sensitive conversations including identifiable information a physio should ensure that their environment is appropriate. This would include presence of Alexa or similar devices as well as others present in the room, listening to a phone call or who may intercept email or written correspondence. Best practice would be to highlight these to the patient and inform them of the potentially sensitive nature of the discussion/treatment before getting their consent to continue. Physiotherapy staff should also record others present in the room including AI devices as well as the patient’s consent to continue with treatment in their presence.
There is no bespoke advice from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) on use of Alexa and similar devices but their advice on use of CCTV seems to confirm the above.
If more bespoke advice is issued then we can circulate it but if you have any further enquiries on this matter, please contact the professional advice team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An interesting discussion on iCSP titled 'Attending Home visits where Alexa is used and privacy' (please note that you have to be logged into your website account to read this discussion).
For details of the Digital and Informatics Physiotherapy Group (DIPG): email@example.com
- Euan McComiskie is the CSP’s health informatics lead and a professional advisor
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