The NHS pitches the service as being especially useful to elderly patients, blind patients and those who cannot access the internet through traditional means.
Through a new partnership between Amazon and the U.K.’s National Health Service, patients will be able to use Alexa devices to answer health-related questions.
Amazon’s algorithm extracts information from the NHS website to answer basic medical questions like common treatments for migraines and symptoms of the flu. The NHS pitches the service as being especially useful to elderly patients, blind patients and those who cannot access the internet through traditional means.
While Alexa previously was able to answer health-related questions, it utilized general information from the internet, which was not clinically verified by the NHS.
By employing Alexa to provide health information about common conditions, the hope is to reduce the burden on NHS clinicians and free them up for higher level tasks.
The effort was driven by a billion-pound initiative known as NHSX which is attempting to drive digital transformation and the adoption of emerging technologies within the system. The program aims to figure out new ways to reduce administrative burden on clinical staff, increase the productivity of the NHS and give patients an avenue to access information and services directly.
“The public need to be able to get reliable information about their health easily and in ways they actually use,” NHSX Chief Executive Matthew Gould said in a statement.
“By working closely with Amazon and other tech companies, big and small, we can ensure that the millions of users looking for health information every day can get simple, validated advice at the touch of a button or voice command.”
Not everyone is pleased by the move. Critics say that the partnership detracts from the frontline care that should be the priority of the NHS and have brought up concerns about the privacy issues that could potentially result by opening up health information to Amazon.
“The giant data monopolies want one thing: more and more data to drive their huge profits. Entrusting Amazon’s Alexa to dispense health advice to patients simply opens the door to the holy grail – our NHS data,” tweeted Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson.
Amazon has emerged as a key enabler of voice technology in healthcare, with one recent example being the rollout of HIPAA-compliant skills for Alexa that facilitates the secure exchange of patient information through voice-based apps.
Date: July 11, 2019
Source: MedCity News