The NHS is set to partner with Amazon to deliver health advice via voice-activated devices
In the UK, new Health Secretary Matt Hancock has used his first speech in the role to outline how he plans to invest an extra £20 billion being earmarked for the NHS… including working with Amazon.
With a tech background before he went into politics, the new secretary is keen to harness new technology to assist practitioners and patients, he said.
“We need to think about how the technology so many of us use in daily life can be joined up with the resources we have in the health system to improve care and reduce pressure on our NHS,” Mr Hancock said.
“We are working with Amazon so the NHS Choices health information that millions use each day can be tailored for voice-activated devices.”
For example, Alexa is Amazon’s virtual assistant, which is built into technology such as its Echo smart speaker.
“Currently, if you ask Alexa what to do about your back pain – you don’t know where the answer will be sourced from,” Mr Hancock said.
“We will change this so questions of this sort will mean you receive the expert information prepared by the NHS.
“This will be open to other home devices too.
“This is another step towards helping people better engage in managing their own care.”
Such a partnership could be the difference between a visually impaired person, for example, being able to get simple advice at home or needed to present to a health professional face to face, he said.
Mr Hancock also said he wanted to see more training for pharmacists in GP surgeries and to invest in community pharmacies, as well as primary care, to avoid hospital visits.