The NHS has launched a new assistive technology partnership with Amazon’s Alexa designed to reduce the pressure on GPs by allowing people to access information more effectively.
The technology allows patients – including the elderly, blind or those unable to access the internet via traditional means – to receive professional NHS-verified health information within seconds through simple voice commands.
Amazon’s algorithm uses information from the NHS website to provide answers to health. The NHS believes it has the potential to reduce the pressure on its services and GPs.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “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.
“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.”
Voice search has been increasing rapidly. A number of councils have already adopted Alexa technology to aid independent living.
NHSX, which launched this month, will look at ways of making more NHS services available to all patients through digital technology.
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.”
Ben Moody, head of health and social care at TechUK, said: “Technology is revolutionising the way we access healthcare information and services, but it’s important that we don’t leave a large proportion of society behind.
“This development will help to ensure that some of the people most in need of verified health information are able to access it.”