Amazon’s Alexa to Offer UK Medical Advice

10 Juillet, 2019, 16:01 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Amazon is seen on the door of an Amazon Books retail store in New York City U.S

Owning to reports, the partnership was first announced past year and latest news suggest NHS was urging further partnership settlements with Microsoft for a similar health advice programme.

Starting this week, devices like the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot will be able to relay information from the NHS website when United Kingdom users ask health-related questions about minor ailments.

The U.S. company's algorithm uses information from the NHS website to provide answers to voice questions such as "Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?" or "Alexa, what are the symptoms of chickenpox".

Users of Amazon's popular Alexa enabled device will be able to ask the voice-assisted technology health-related queries, with Alexa searching the NHS Choices website to provide NHS-verified health information in seconds.

The NHS says the partnership with Amazon will be helpful to patients, allowing them to receive verified health information in seconds - and that it has the potential to reduce the burden on the NHS and Global Positioning System by providing information about common conditions, such as migraines, flu and chickenpox.

But privacy campaigners expressed alarm over the possibility of Amazon storing medical data and then using it to sell targeted ads.

This month saw the launch of NHSX, one of health secretary Matt Hancock's key policies, an organisation that aims to make more NHS services available to patients through digital technology.

"Healthcare is made inaccessible when trust and privacy is stripped away, and that's what this bad plan would do", she added.

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Leaked documents published past year suggested the company was building a "health and wellness" team within its Alexa voice assistant division in the United States, but Amazon declined to comment.

Voice search is particularly helpful for people who find screens tricky to use, such as elderly people, who are more likely to need health advice and may not always be able to reach a GP easily.

For those concerned about privacy and data security, Amazon says the data will remain confidential and won't be shared with third parties.

"It's all about people, it's about having people at the top of NHS trusts who get that technology will give back the gift of time to their clinicians and save lives and improve the lives of their patients".

"We want to empower every patient to take better control of their healthcare", he added.

The new plan was regarded as "potential", especially to treat minor ailments, according to a statement by Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard from the Royal College of Global Positioning System.

Is this a step in the right direction in making health advice more accessible to those who may otherwise be unable to get the information they need?

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