Need quick medical advice in Britain? Ask Alexa

(Reuters) – Britain’s state-run health service is teaming up with Amazon to provide medical advice for common ailments such as migraines and flu via the tech giant’s voice assistant Alexa, aiming to help more patients at home and cut down on costs.

The plan is to give patients – especially the elderly, blind and those unable to access the internet through traditional means – access to information verified by the National Health Service (NHS) by using voice commands, the government said.

The deal could ease pressure on the NHS by reducing the need to visit a doctor.

It also marks the latest move by Amazon into healthcare following its purchase of online pharmacy PillPack last year and a tie-up with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co in the United States aimed at cutting health costs for hundreds of thousands of their employees.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said millions of people were already asking Alexa and other voice assistants about health matters, and he wanted to make sure they received the very best advice in response.

He said the service would be backed by strong privacy rules to protect patient confidentiality.

“There is a clear protocol in place that Amazon has and that we have in the NHS,” he told BBC radio.

The NHS is a cherished institution for many Britons, providing services from routine consultations to life-saving operations. But it is under growing financial pressure in the face of increasing patient demands and budget constraints.

A general practitioner (GP), often referred to as “family doctor”, is usually the first port of call for a person feeling unwell in Britain.

Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said voice-assisted technology could free up more doctors’ appointments for patients who need them most.

“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,” she said.

“But we must be careful not to create a ‘digital divide’ between those patients who can afford it and are able to use it, and those who can’t.”

Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices such as Echo and Echo Dot range in price from about 50 pounds ($62) to more than 200 pounds.

The U.S. company’s algorithm uses information from the NHS website to provide answers to voice questions such as “Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?” or “Alexa, what are the symptoms of chickenpox”.

Technology, led by artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, is being increasingly deployed in healthcare.

FILE PHOTO: Prompts on how to use Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant are seen in an Amazon ‘experience center’ in Vallejo, California, U.S., May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage/File Photo

London-based Babylon Health says its AI technology, in tests, has outperformed most physicians in assessing disease symptoms.

Chatbot Florence, named after Florence Nightingale – the founder of modern nursing – allows patients to monitor health and wellness indicators via Kik, Skype and Facebook Messenger.

In India, Practo, founded in 2008, acts as a one-stop shop for patients booking appointments with doctors for online and face-to-face consultations.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Paul Sandle in London; Additional reporting by Sangameswaran S, Editing by Deepa Babington and Mark Potter

Source link

more recommended stories

  • SoftBank’s Son says Japan lacks investment opportunities, is AI ‘developing country’

    FILE PHOTO: Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.

  • Amazon under EU antitrust fire over use of merchant data

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Amazon became the.

  • Ericsson says on track for 2020 targets as second-quarter profit matches forecasts

    STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Mobile network gear.

  • U.S. Justice Department asks appeals court to pause antitrust ruling against Qualcomm

    FILE PHOTO: A Qualcomm sign is.

  • Senate to grill Facebook over plans for Libra cryptocurrency

    WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers.

  • Amazon rivals ride on Prime Day marketing as protests unfold

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc’s.

  • Huawei to invest $3.1 billion in Italy but calls for fair policy on 5G: country CEO

    MILAN (Reuters) – China’s Huawei Technologies.

  • Amazon workers in Germany to strike over pay, Verdi union says

    FILE PHOTO: An Amazon sign is.

  • Israel holds 5G mobile network tender, aims for 2020 launch

    JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel launched a.

  • China’s Ping An to invest in education startup iTutorGroup

    BEIJING (Reuters) – Ping An Insurance.

  • U.S. regulators approve $5 billion Facebook settlement over privacy issues: source

    (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Trade.

  • Japan sets up working group on impact of Facebook’s Libra ahead of G7

    TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese authorities have.

  • Volkswagen zooms ahead in extension of alliance with Ford to electric, automated cars

    , NEW YORK (Reuters) – Ford.

  • Macquarie-backed MEIF 6 Fibre outbids USSL for telecoms firm KCOM

    (Reuters) – Macquarie-backed MEIF 6 Fibre.

  • Trump blasts Bitcoin, Facebook’s Libra, demands they face banking regulations

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald.

  • Twitter back up partially after worldwide outage

    FILE PHOTO – The Twitter logo.

  • French Senate approves tax as U.S. opens probe into digital levy

    PARIS (Reuters) – France’s Senate on.

  • U.S. to probe French plan to tax tech companies

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald.

  • Appetizing prospects: Uber founder takes aim at South Korea’s shared kitchen market

    SEOUL (Reuters) – Chef Youm Jung-phil.

  • U.S. to provide licenses for sales to Huawei if national security protected

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government.

  • Nine companies set prices for listings on China’s Nasdaq-style tech board

    SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Nine Chinese companies,.

  • Facebook not invited to White House social media summit: company

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc said.

  • The high-tech trade dispute rooted in Japan’s wartime history

    TOKYO/SEOUL (Reuters) – Japan has tightened.

  • Exclusive: U.S. clears SoftBank’s $2.25 billion investment in GM-backed Cruise

    (Reuters) – Cruise, a U.S. self-driving.

  • Amazon founder Bezos’ divorce final with $38 billion settlement: report

    FILE PHOTO: 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar.

  • Fugitive U.S. tech guru: Cryptocurrency is next Cuban revolution

    HAVANA (Reuters) – On the run.

  • Boxing with giants: Italy’s packing robots are not just cardboard cutouts

    (This June 28 story corrects Romaco’s.

  • TIM to extend 5G services to six more Italian cities by year-end

    FILE PHOTO: Telecom Italia new logo.

  • UK competition regulator puts brake on Amazon’s Deliveroo deal

    (Reuters) – Britain’s competition regulator has.

  • Sweden to investigate telecom operator Tele2’s June network outage

    STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden launched an.

  • U.S. asks federal court to throw out Huawei lawsuit

    The Huawei logo is pictured on.

  • BMW and Daimler team up on automated driving

    BERLIN (Reuters) – Some 1,200 developers.