NHS partners with Amazon’s Alexa to offer medical advice in the UK
By Akshay Kedari  Date: 2019-07-11

NHS partners with Amazon’s Alexa to offer medical advice in the UK

NHS aims to improve patient’s healthcare quality in an effort to relieve pressure on health professionals in the U.K. 

UK’s public healthcare system, National Health Service (NHS) has recently announced its partnership with Amazon to allow elderly people, blind people and other patients easy access to health advice on the internet via Amazon’s AI-powered voice assistant, Alexa.

Reports claim that Alexa would give answers to basic health questions like “Alexa, what are the symptoms of flu?” or “Alexa, how to treat a migraine?”, with well vetted information provided by NHS health professionals. Currently, Alexa sources answers to such questions from a variety of sites including the Mayo Clinic and WebMD.

Speaking on the move, UK’s Department of Health (DoH) said that it expects the step to reduce pressure on health professionals in the country, giving people a new way to access reliable medical advice. It said that Alexa would also be beneficial to individuals with disabilities, like sight impairments, who find it difficult to access the computer or smartphone to seek health advice.

Meanwhile, UK’s Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said that the move could allow people access to NHS’s reliable, world-leading clinical advice from the comfort of their home, further reducing pressure on the country’s hardworking GPs and pharmacists.

According to a statement, Prof. Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chairwomen, Royal College of GPs, said that the collaboration has the potential to help some patients work out what kind of care they require before seeking medical help, especially for minor ailments.

However, she claims that the scheme should ensure giving advice that is safe, or else it could prevent people from seeking proper medical help and create even more pressure on overstretched GP service.

In addition to Alexa, NHS had previously entered into partnership with health tech firm Babylon, which offers patient consultations via a smartphone app. This has been criticized for gaming the UK’s healthcare system. Doctors however claim that the app mainly attracts low-maintenance, young patients, while pushing harder expensive cases back to regular GPs.

Source Credit: https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/10/20688654/amazon-alexa-health-advice-uk-nhs

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/10/nhs-teams-up-with-amazon-to-bring-alexa-to-patients

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Akshay Kedari    

Akshay Kedari

A qualified computer engineering graduate, Akshay Kedari takes pride in having his way with words. Following his passion for content creation, he writes insightful pieces on aeresearch.net and a few other portals. Also endorsed with a short-term experience in web deve...

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