UK: Alexa will start giving people NHS-verified health advice

If you own an Amazon Alexa-powered device, you’ll soon start getting health advice that has been verified by the National Health Service (NHS). In the UK, patients can use the NHS website as the first port of call in order to find out what’s wrong with them, before heading to the doctors. It’s hoped that the trove of information available on the NHS website will be more easily accessible via Alexa for those who would otherwise find it difficult to access the website such as the elderly or the blind.

Discussing the news, Matthew Gould, Chief Executive of NHSX, said:

“The public need to be able to get reliable information about their health easily and in ways they actually use. By working closely with Amazon and other tech companies, big and small, we can ensure that the millions of users looking for health information every day can get simple, validated advice at the touch of a button or voice command.”

Once the feature rolls out to devices, users will be able to issue commands like “Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?”, “Alexa, what are the symptoms of flu?”, “Alexa, what are the symptoms of chickenpox?” By getting the information directly from the NHS, users will have more confidence in the results and won’t be lured in by some of the advice found online being peddled by quacks.

The move to bring NHS advice to Alexa is part of the NHS Long Term Plan which seeks to adapt the health service going forward in order to deliver better-personalised care as well as reduce pressure on staff through technical means. By adding this feature to Alexa, more people will be able to self-diagnose their minor issues using reliable information, thus reducing the strain on NHS services, allowing those with more serious issues to get treated more efficiently.

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