Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa will now provide medical advice for common ailments such as flu and migraines in Britain as the country’s state-run health service is teaming-up with the tech giant to use its voice assistant to help more patients at home and lessen the costs involved.
Focusing especially on blind, elderly or those having no access to the internet through traditional means, the plan is aimed to help such patients through using voice commands by giving them an access to information verified by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), the government said.
Reducing the number of patients visiting the doctor, the deal would be lessening the pressure on NHS.
However, use of newer technologies for healthcare services is also raising some concerns that older people might find that technology harder to adapt as they are used to personal or telephonic interactions for getting health advices
Smart devices could be more helpful for older people by providing them access to routine health information and advice, if they have properly been provided training to use those devices, said Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK.
To get the right advice and information, older people still use traditional ways of in-person or telephonic support, Abrahams said adding that internet has never been used by about five million people of age 65 and above.
To the Amazon’s strategy in healthcare services, which led it to acquire online pharmacy PillPack in last year and collaboration with JPMorgan Chase & Co and Berkshire Hathaway aiming reducing costs related to the healthcare services of their hundreds of thousands of U.S. employees, the current deal is also another step forward.
Alex and other voice assistants have already been questioned about the health matters by millions of people and we wanted to make it possible that in response they will get the very best advice, said British Health Secretary Matt Hancock.