UK to leverage Amazon Alexa for medical advice

U.K. residents will soon be able to utilize their Amazon Alexa voice technology to get certain medical information, after the National Health Service (NHS) struck a partnership with Amazon.

The collaboration uses Amazon’s algorithm and information from the NHS website to answer questions like, “Alexa, what are the symptoms of the flu?” according to NHS. The partnership reflects the growing use of voice technology devices. According to NHS, half of all searches are expected to be made through voice-assisted technology.

“The public need to be able to get reliable information about their health easily and in ways they actually use,” Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX, said in a statement. “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.”

While Amazon scored the partnership, Google’s voice technology actually performed better than its peers, including Amazon and Apple’s Siri voice assistants, in a recent study. The emergence of voice technology has prompted many medical uses, with even the potential to detect a range of mental and physical ailments of a person just from hearing their voice.

NHSX, a unit of NHS, plans to look for ways to make NHS services more available to all patients with digital technology. It will also potentially partner with other technology providers on similar services, according to CNN Business.

“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,” Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said in a statement.