NHS makes deal with Amazon to give Alexa power to diagnose
A new partnership between Amazon and the NHS will give its Alexa voice assistant the power to answer medical questions.
The voice assistant gadget will use information from the NHS website to answer simple voice commands and questions about health related issues.
The partnership is designed to help patients including the elderly and blind, to access the information more easily, and health officials hope it will alleviate pressure on NHS staff.
The new partnership has been spearheaded by NHSX, an NHS body set up to bring digital technology to patients.
Health Secretary 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.”
Royal College of GPs chairwoman, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard welcomed the move but urged caution.
"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, especially for minor ailments that rarely need a GP appointment, such as coughs and colds that can be safely treated at home,” she said.
"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."
Civil liberty group Big Brother Watch said the move was a “terrible plan” when dealing with such sensitive data.
In April, Zoopla integrated its property data into Alexa to allow users to ask how much houses were worth.