NHS ties up with Amazon to make Alexa Healthy

Amazon's Alexa virtual assistants

The NHS is collaborating with Amazon to help patients, especially the elderly, visually-impaired or those who can not access the Internet through traditional means, to get professional, NHS-verified health information using voice commands, the official release notes.

The UK health department said it expected half of all symptom checks and other medical queries to be made through voice-assisted technology by next year.

The government believes that this technology has the potential to reduce the pressure on the NHS and Global Positioning System by providing information on common illnesses.

"Encouraging the public to give their private health details to one of the most aggressive corporate data guzzlers is astonishingly misguided", Britain's Big Brother Watch civil liberties group director Silkie Carlo said.

"Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?"

'We haven't as a society and as individuals yet at all come to terms with how we use this technology for the better'.

The new partnership has been spearheaded by NHSX, an NHS body set up to bring digital technology to patients.

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.

'However, it is vital that independent research is done to ensure that the advice given is safe, otherwise it could prevent people seeking proper medical help and create even more pressure on our overstretched GP service'.

Nevertheless, it additionally goes without saying that patients with complicated healthcare needs shouldn't entirely rely on Alexa as their only supply of recommendation, not to mention raising questions on privacy and knowledge security.

"Amazon is a company with a worrying track record when it comes to the way they handle their users' data", said Eva Blum-Dumontet, a researcher at Privacy International.

But critics have said the setup is a "data protection disaster waiting to happen" because of concerns Amazon holds onto voice recordings.

"These home surveillance devices are controversial and not widely used".

'Healthcare is made inaccessible when trust and privacy is stripped away, and that's what this awful plan would do.

In the age of the European General Data Protection Rule, the United Kingdom allowing a US company to hold this personal information seems disingenuous.

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