The UK Government has announced that the NHS has plans to collaborate with Amazon to provide “reliable health information from the NHS website through voice-assisted technology.”
The NHS are embracing the use of technology as part of the Long Term Plan, and hopping on the voice search trend as by 2020, half of all searches are expected to be made through voice-assisted technology.
A release on Gov UK states that the technology will help patients, especially the elderly, blind and those who cannot access the internet through traditional means, to get professional, NHS-verified health information in seconds, through simple voice commands.
Amazon’s algorithm will use information from the NHS website to provide answers to voice questions such as: “Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?”, “Alexa, what are the symptoms of flu?” and “Alexa, what are the symptoms of chickenpox” among others.
Secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock said that the aim is to “empower every patient to take better control of their healthcare,” and that “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.”
He continued, “Through the NHS Long Term Plan, we want to embrace the advances in technology to build a health and care system that is fit for the future and NHSX will drive this revolution to bring the benefits to every patient, clinician and carer.”
NHSX will look at ways of making more NHS services available to all patients through digital technology.
Critics and cynics have already raised points about the data protection issues surrounding the development, with Dementia UK also asking “is this an example of the NHS embracing voice-assisted technology, or a risk to users' health if this advice is administered incorrectly?”