The NHS has teamed up with Amazon to allow elderly people, blind people and other patients who cannot easily search for health advice on the internet to access the information through the AI-powered voice assistant Alexa. The health service hopes patients asking Alexa for health advice will ease pressure on the NHS, with Amazon’s algorithm using information from the NHS website to provide answers to health questions. Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, said the move will help patients, especially the elderly, blind and those who are unable to access the internet in other ways, take more control of their healthcare and help reduce the burden on the NHS.
However, despite welcoming the move, the Royal College of GPs warned that independent research must be carried out to ensure the advice given is safe. Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “This idea is certainly interesting and it has the potential to help some patients work out what kind of care they need before considering whether to seek face-to-face medical help... However, it is vital that independent research is done to ensure that the advice given is safe, otherwise it could prevent people seeking proper medical help and create even more pressure on our overstretched GP service.”
Source: The Independent, 10 July 2019