Alexa Starts Trawling NHS Web Sites to Give Health Answers

By Gary Cutlack on at

News that the NHS is collaborating with Amazon won't go down with the security-minded sectors of society today, although obviously Amazon says any weird health questions you say out loud to your little speaker friend will remain confidential.

The government's agreed that Amazon's Alexa device may trawl oficial NHS advice pages to answer health questions from owners, which has to be a step up from the horror that is looking up your symptoms on search engines. The idea is that people unable to access the internet through traditional means may therefore use the helper system to find answers to such questions as "how do I treat a migraine?" and "what are the symptoms of chickenpox?"

The government says this may reduce the pressure on GPs by answering some of the low-level and fairly dumb health questions people ask in surgeries when all they really want is a bit of attention and someone to gently touch and look in their ears, with health secretary Matt Hancock explaining: "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." [GOV via BBC]