As of this week, you will be able to “Ask Alexa” for advice and information regarding health conditions. This comes after a partnership was formed between Amazon and the NHS. Previously, the Alexa device was programmed to scour several different online sources for health information. This meant the information relayed back to the device user may not necessarily be from a reputable source. Furthermore, it was not always verified by medical professionals. The device will now recognize that the user is asking a health-related question and will link directly to information provided by the NHS.
Alexa users could ask questions such as “What are the symptoms of diabetes?” or “How do I treat a burn?” Alexa will then provide them with reliable and helpful information in the comfort of their own home. This is hoped to decrease the amount of pressure on our health services as information can be acted upon without necessarily needing to see a GP or pharmacist.
The collaboration is said to be a “world-first”. There has been a lot of positive feedback about useful medical information being obtainable by voice command. It is especially helpful for users with visual impairment. However it has been met with varying levels of support from those working in a medical field. There is also a concern surrounding the confidentiality of using this equipment and whether information is stored.
It has been emphasized that this is not a substitute for making an appointment with your doctor. Individuals who have more complex health needs, or those suffering from serious or prolonged symptoms should not solely rely upon this information. People in those situations are advised to see a medical professional for further guidance.
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