Dr Alexa? Amazon and NHS unveil partnership

Josh Peachey's picture
by Josh Peachey

Amazon's Alexa can now act as your doctor and answer health-related queries with official advice from the NHS website. 

The voice-controlled device for homes has previously provided popular answers to health queries found on the internet, but now, thanks to a new partnership, British customers will receive information that has been verified by NHS health professionals.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, when talking about the partnership, said that his father has an Alexa and asks it all sorts of questions.

He attempted to address privacy concerns by saying that there are rules in place to prevent health data being sold on. 

Mr Hancock said: "I want people to get the best medical advice that says 'yes', rather than the sort of spurious stuff that turns up on the Internet and randomly is put up the algorithms."

The move will alleviate the burden on the NHS and allow patients, especially the blind or those who have difficulty with the internet, to take more control of their healthcare.

Example questions that people at home could ask their Alexa are how to treat a migraine, or what the symptoms are for flu or chickenpox.

The Royal College of GPs has welcomed the move but the chairwoman, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, added: "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."

The chairwoman also stressed that patients with complex healthcare needs should not rely on Alexa as their sole source of health advice.