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Alexa at forefront of Hancock’s plans for ‘digital transformation’ at NHS

Patients will be able to diagnose symptoms through the use of their Alexa device in a landmark new partnership between the NHS and Amazon.

 In a speech to staff members at West Suffolk Hospital, new health secretary Matt Hancock said the use of technology is an advance the NHS “must harness” and said the national health service will work with NHS Choices and Amazon to tailor information so patients that use Alexa can receive up-to-date and correct information.

“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,” 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. Currently, if you ask Alexa what do about your back pain – you don’t know where the answer will be sourced from.

“We will change this, so questions of this sort will mean you receive the expert information prepared by the NHS.”

The health secretary noted that this service will be available to other home devices in the future as well. 

He continued: “This is another step towards helping people better engage in managing their own care.  For the visually impaired this sort of innovation can be the difference between them getting simple advice at home, through NHS choices, or having to book an appointment to speak to someone face to face.  

“From these patient-facing technologies through the amazing advances in artificial intelligence, personalised medicines and genomics and the full breadth of the life sciences this technology is advancing faster than ever before. We must harness this advance.”

Hancock’s announcement comes after the announcement of almost £500m in funding dedicated to the technology sector of the NHS.

Hancock added that more detail will be announced on this in the Autumn and the Department of Health and Social Care is looking for the public’s view.

He concluded: “Again we’ll be setting out more detail on this in the Autumn and seeking your views. But from today let this be clear: tech transformation is coming. The opportunities of new technology, done right across the whole of health and social care, are vast. Let’s work together to seize them.”

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Image credit: sudok1


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