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NHS partners with Amazon to offer health information through Alexa

Published on 11/07/19 at 09:50am

The NHS is collaborating with e-commerce giant Amazon to provide health information through the voice-activated, ‘virtual assistant’ Alexa.

Patients will be able to ask Alexa questions like “how do I treat a migraine?” In response, Alexa will offer health information from the NHS.

The new partnership is being touted as a means of relieving pressure on GPs and the NHS by offering easy-to-access information for common illnesses to patients in need.

The partnership comes after the NHS Long Term Plan, released in January 2019, stated the government’s commitment to digitalising the NHS.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock commented: “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.”

“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.”

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.”

“Part of our mission at NHSX is to give citizens the tools to access services and information directly, and partnerships such as this are an important part of achieving this.”

Civil liberties organisation Big Brother Watch tweeted: "Matt Hancock’s NHS deal with Amazon - one of the most aggressive corporate data guzzlers - risks people being profiled & targeted based on health concerns. It’s a data protection disaster waiting to happen."

Louis Goss

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