Health July 10, 2019
“Alexa, what are the symptoms?”

By News Feature - Accountable Care Journal

The NHS and Amazon announce a partnership to enable voice-assisted technology to provide patients with reliable health information from the NHS website.

The world-first collaboration will empower people to take greater control of their own care by asking their voice-activated 'Alexa' devices simple questions such as ‘Alexa how do I treat a migraine? ’ ‘Alexa What are the symptoms of flu? ' The algorithms then use information from the NHS website to provide answers which are spoken back to the patient.

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, commented: "We want to empower every patient to take better control of their healthcare and technology like this is a great example of how people can access reliable, world-leading NHS advice from the comfort of their home, reducing the pressure on our hardworking GPs and pharmacists."

It has the potential to reduce the pressure on the NHS and GPs by providing information for common illnesses. Voice search has been increasing rapidly and, by 2020, half of all searches are expected to be via voice-assisted technology.

NHSX, which launched this month to drive forward the technological revolution in healthcare, will look at ways of making more NHS services available to all patients through digital technology.

Case Study

38-year-old Adi Latif from London is registered blind and uses Amazon Alexa and other voice-assisted technology for everyday tasks such as emailing, news updates and ordering a taxi. When asked about the development, Adi said: "NHS services need to be designed in a way that allows all people, including those who are blind or disabled, access them easily from the convenience of their own home."

He added: "Smart speakers such as Alexa are no doubt high tech, but they are designed in a way which allows you to have a conversation with them making them less daunting to use."

The new chief executive of NHSX, Matthew Gould, welcomed the partnership and is looking to 'work closely' with other tech companies 'big or small. ' 

"Part of our mission at NHSX is to give citizens the tools to access services and information directly, and partnerships such as this are an important part of achieving this," he added.

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