The National Health Service has announced it is is launching an Alexa skill that will give Brits answers to common questions on healthcare needs.
The world first collaboration will enable Brits to ask questions about the treatment and symptoms of illnesses and receive pre-approved answers from the trove of knowledge that appears on the NHS website.
For example, it’ll be possible to ask “Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?” and “Alexa what are the symptoms of chickenpox?”
The health service sees the assistant as a means of reducing patient anxiety by bringing them quick and easy access to the information, without them having to navigate the avoiding the minefield of worry sites. It’ll also assist less-abled Brits who find it difficult to use traditional means of searching for information online.
Related: Best Alexa Skills 2019
The access to reliable information via devices like the Echo speaker could also reduce the strain on the NHS if Brits can find the tools and medication to alleviate their condition without the need for a visit to the doctor. Although that prospect is something that might concern Brits.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “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.”
Hancock also assured that there are privacy rules in place to prevent third-parties like Amazon selling the data on, but that’s unlikely to convince privacy advocates who called it a “disaster waiting to happen.”
“Alexa, who have you sold my health data to?” tweeted the Big Brother Watch account. “Matt Hancock’s NHS deal with Amazon – one of the most aggressive corporate data guzzlers – risks people being profiled & targeted based on health concerns.”
Smart home tech has been slowly creeping into the healthcare space, particularly with voice assistants now becoming so much more proficient. In February, we brought word of a hospital in Los Angeles, which was equipping rooms with Echo Dot speakers that made it easy for patients to call for a medial professional, change the TV channel or keep up with news from the outside world.