The British National Health Service is collaborating with Amazon, the biggest online retailer, to offer patients health advice and information through Alexa.
The new voice-assisted service will be available from this week and will help patients, especially those who may not have access to a computer, to get professional and official NHS information.
NHS England said that in 2016/17, more than nine million people were sent home from A&E after only getting advice, which could often have been obtained from a pharmacist or 111. The Government hopes that this partnership will reduce the demand on the NHS, Ambulance and GP services.
The use of voice search has increased massively. By 2020, half of all searches are expected to be made through voice-based technology.
Amazon’s Alexa algorithm uses information directly from the NHS website to provide answers to voice commands, like “Alex, what are the symptoms of flu?”.
According to experts, people are already using their Alexa to ask questions regarding health. This new partnership will ensure those people are now getting the correct information, that is verified by the NHS.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said:
“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.”
“Through the NHS Long Term Plan, we want to embrace the advances in technology to build a health and care system that is fit for the future and NHSX will drive this revolution to bring the benefits to every patient, clinician and carer.”
The collaboration between the NHS and the American-based company Amazon has raised data protection concerns, however, Amazon has said that the information will be kept confidential.