Amazon is Pushing the NHS Alexa Agreement Further into Health Care

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Amazon is Pushing the NHS Alexa Agreement Further into Health Care

Marcus Vass, co-head of digital health at global law firm, Osborne Clarke, argued that the NHS website is already a popular source of info for patients, and enabling Alexa search is an extension of that.

The UK's Department of Health (DoH) said the move will reduce the pressure on NHS professionals in the country, giving users an easy way to access authoritative medical advice.

It seems that some national healthcare officials in old Brittania are considering using Alexa as a clinical tool for serving the population covered under the NHS: Business Insider and other publications are reporting new announcements from the U.K. National Healthcare Service to employ Amazon's smart home device to answer simple questions for patients on behalf of the NHS doctors. At the moment, Alexa sources answers to such questions from a variety of places, including the Mayo Clinic and WebMD.

The move is meant to relieve pressure on NHS staff amid an overhaul of the service to become more digital.

Britons who ask Alexa basic health questions like "Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?" and "Alexa, what are the symptoms of flu?" will be given answers vetted by NHS health professionals and now available on its website.

The NHS said the voice-activated assistant will make its advice more accessible to those who struggle to access the internet, such as the blind. Some privacy campaigners also pointed out that Amazon stores users' voice recordings in their own data centres. "Any concern from patients about the use of their health data would be corrosive to the trust in using voice assisted technology or other algorithms to access the NHS website". A lawsuit filed last month in US federal court alleged that Amazon is violating laws in eight states by recording children without consent through Alexa devices.

According to the BBC, Big Brother Watch Director Silkie Carlo said: "Any public money spent on this very bad plan rather than frontline services would be a breathtaking waste".

Voice search is the next big thing.

Amazon on Wednesday sought to reassure users that their information will be kept confidential, and not shared with third parties, used to sell products or to build a health profile. That effort, called NHSX, formally launched in February as part of the NHS Long Term Plan to modernize health services.

The Royal College of Global Positioning System welcomed the move but said research must be carried out to ensure advice is safe.

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