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Amazon's Alexa to Offer NHS-Verified Health Advice to Britons

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From this week, users of Alexa devices in the United Kingdom will be able to get expert health advice from the voice-activated smart speakers, thanks to a partnership between Amazon and the National Health Service.


When health-related queries such as "Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?" or "what are the symptoms of flu?" are put to the devices, Amazon's algorithm will use information from the NHS website to provide answers.

Britain's NHS says the technology will help patients the elderly, blind and those who cannot access the internet through traditional means, to get professional NHS-verified health information in seconds, potentially reducing the pressure on the NHS and GPs, specifically when it comes to providing information for common illnesses.

Currently, Alexa gets its answers to health-related questions from a number of sources, including the Mayo Clinic and WebMD. As a point of contrast, Apple's Siri currently retrieves answers to health-related queries from Wolfram Alpha and Wikipedia.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock offered the following comments on the new Amazon-NHS partnership:
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.

Through the NHS Long Term Plan, we want to embrace the advances in technology to build a health and care system that is fit for the future and NHSX will drive this revolution to bring the benefits to every patient, clinician and carer.
In addition, Hancock told Sky News there are "privacy rules" in place to prevent peoples' information being sold on, and that the government was "up for doing this sort of collaboration with other tech companies".

The Royal College of GPs welcomed the move, but warned that independent research will be needed to ensure the advice given out is safe.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the RCGP, told Sky News:
"This idea is certainly interesting and it has the potential to help some patients work out what kind of care they need before considering whether to seek face-to-face medical help, especially for minor ailments that rarely need a GP appointment, such as coughs and colds that can be safely treated at home.

"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."
NHS experts believe half of all health-related searches will be made through voice-assisted technology by 2020. The U.K. government has set up a unit called NHSX to boost the use of digital technologies in the health service over the next few years. Measures already being pursued include an expansion of electronic prescribing and the use of artificial intelligence to analyze scans.

Article Link: Amazon's Alexa to Offer NHS-Verified Health Advice to Britons
 
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tranceking26

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Apr 16, 2013
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Erm no thanks, I'd rather just use my phone contacts for the help I need. Phone calls still exist thankfully.

If this thing uses some of the online data it's just going to put a kind of fear factor into you, I always say never trust Dr. Google. See your GP instead.
 
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apolloa

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[doublepost=1562757441][/doublepost]Well there we have it! Now even our most intimate and private information being collected. No thanks, I will stick with the human doctor for now!

Well if your in the UK good luck with getting an appointment, then again if you need to see a doctor to ask how to treat a headache you are pretty selfish.

I’m sure everyone’s happy with Apple recording FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR more details about your health right...........
 
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User 6502

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Well if your in the UK good luck with getting an appointment, then again if you need to see a doctor to ask how to treat a headache you are pretty selfish.

I’m sure everyone’s happy with Apple recording FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR more details about your health right...........
Yes, I trust Apple more than Amazon with my data (health related or not).
 
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BruceEBonus

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Sep 23, 2007
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Well Mr Paramedic, the reason you’ve been called to this “life threatening” call is because when I asked Miss Alexa about my CHEST of drawers giving me back PAINS when I pushed them ... it called an ambulance. Sorry!
 
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SaxPlayer

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I have mixed feelings about this. The health service is under pressure (you only have to watch Ambulance or Hospital on BBC One to get a very real feeling for how things are if you didn't appreciate it already). However, Amazon has a questionable privacy record and even if you're asking it pretty mundane things it's still building up a picture of who you are and what you do.

No thanks!

There are times when I'm sorry to see Apple's voice tech excluded from products. There are plenty of websites I visit for smart home devices that only support Google Home and Alexa, however I fully support the whole Apple privacy thing. It's easier for businesses to become part of the Homekit universe now so I'm going to bide my time, stick with Apple because I like the privacy focussed slant on things and if it means we have to wait for features like this NHS help to come to Siri/HomePod then so be it.

Generally speaking, only stupid people have Alexa so at least it'll help them when they stub their toe and wonder why it hurts. :D
 
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Jmausmuc

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They should finally introduce Shotcut Support into their app. Can believe they haven’t already.
 
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Mac Fly (film)

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I wonder what the NHS’s track record on vetting Pharma research is. Big pharma is about the sickest thing out there. Many doctors believe their marketing claims. But surely they couldn’t claim X if it wasn’t true. Yes they could, and do all the time. It’s very big business. They’re worse than the mafia, but thankfully people are in the early stages of waking up.

Feel sorry for you in the US over there. Here, advertising drugs on TV is illegal. They circumvent this by manipulating data and doctors, and privatising their research, but we’re waking up to this. Thank God for the internet.
 
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mark-in-mk

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Mar 24, 2011
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Alexa "Whats faecal impaction......"

Why wouldn't you want to share that with the Amazon employees reviewing your enquiry recordings ?, and then see adverts for large bar stools appearing in your Prime recommendations.

Or when dad gets home to and reviews his Alexa voice records to hear his underage daughter asking about pregnancy prevention.

What could go wrong.......? (as the daughter asks Alexa how to treat a shotgun wound or attempted strangulation of a young male. )
 
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apolloa

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I guess this is fairly area dependant, I live just outside of London and have never had problems getting appointments, there is always the option of private healthcare for those who can afford it I suppose.

No there isn’t, I have full private healthcare from work but it doesn’t not cover your GP, that’s still NHS and they do not have to refer you to a private. You can ask and they’ll say no as they get paid more to tear you at their surgeries.
Sure you can get an appointment but it for 2 weeks, the NHS has fallen to bits, I know as I’ve used it recently a fair few times. It’s sad a great service with a majority of good people is rotting.
I’d much rather people could ask Alexa how to treat things then dial 999 which they will do.

[doublepost=1562791478][/doublepost]
Yes, I trust Apple more than Amazon with my data (health related or not).

More fool you then. Best keep your tin foil hat on.
[doublepost=1562791688][/doublepost]
Generally speaking, only stupid people have Alexa so at least it'll help them when they stub their toe and wonder why it hurts. :D

Wow, so millions of people are ‘stupid’ in your opinion. What a naive opinion you have then.
 
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halluxsinister

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Oct 17, 2017
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No there isn’t, I have full private healthcare from work but it doesn’t not cover your GP, that’s still NHS and they do not have to refer you to a private. You can ask and they’ll say no as they get paid more to tear you at their surgeries.
Sure you can get an appointment but it for 2 weeks, the NHS has fallen to bits, I know as I’ve used it recently a fair few times. It’s sad a great service with a majority of good people is rotting.
I’d much rather people could ask Alexa how to treat things then dial 999 which they will do.

[doublepost=1562791478][/doublepost]

More fool you then. Best keep your tin foil hat on.
[doublepost=1562791688][/doublepost]

Wow, so millions of people are ‘stupid’ in your opinion. What a naive opinion you have then.
Or, just maybe, millions of people actually are stupid. It could be both. I wouldn’t trust either of these companies or indeed, any company or group that has a motivation to sell or otherwise misuse my personal private information for their benefit. Because as a rule, they will.

Also... I’m surprised that no one has pointed this out yet here, (as far as I’ve seen,) but this is a natural collaboration: the British government spying on its own subjects, and Amazon spying on its own subjects... er... customers.
 
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apolloa

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Or, just maybe, millions of people actually are stupid. It could be both. I wouldn’t trust either of these companies or indeed, any company or group that has a motivation to sell or otherwise misuse my personal private information for their benefit. Because as a rule, they will.

Also... I’m surprised that no one has pointed this out yet here, (as far as I’ve seen,) but this is a natural collaboration: the British government spying on its own subjects, and Amazon spying on its own subjects... er... customers.

With such an attitude as yours, I’m surprised your on the internet, it’s quite sad how people wear tin foil hats claiming people are incredibly stupid and for using certain products, whilst they post on the internet on a mobile device....... just makes them out to be rather stupid and unbelievably hypocritical.

You perhaps should wake up to the fact if you have a mobile phone or use the internet you ARE tracked. And their is nothing you can do about it. Best stay far far away from any free app too..
 
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NT1440

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May 18, 2008
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Ah yes, the company with the biggest CIA contract can surely be trusted to not collect information for them.

We’re getting stupider as a species, intense surveillance so we can ask “how to treat a cold” or “set a timer”.

How people buy these products is well beyond my understanding.
 
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apolloa

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Erm no thanks, I'd rather just use my phone contacts for the help I need. Phone calls still exist thankfully.

If this thing uses some of the online data it's just going to put a kind of fear factor into you, I always say never trust Dr. Google. See your GP instead.

As the story states, this has had the stamp of approval by the NHS. So I’d imagine it is somewhat better then Dr Google?
 
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mark-in-mk

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Mar 24, 2011
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As the story states, this has had the stamp of approval by the NHS. So I’d imagine it is somewhat better then Dr Google?
Possibly in reliability of content, but how about from a privacy perspective ?
 
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apolloa

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Possibly in reliability of content, but how about from a privacy perspective ?

What privacy? And what are you going to ask it anyway? If you have something you think is serious dial 111 or go and see your GP.
But say you did stub your toe, you can ask Alexa and it’ll tell you what to do, you do not go to A&E by the way unless you have it turning blue even if it’s broken, they won’t do anything.
Or say your bitten by some insect, simple things, hardly anything to worry about as it’s the kind of things you’ll moan about to your work colleagues.

Or say you need to perform CPR... that’s a life saver, if Alexa tells you what to do to save someone’s life are you going to worry about your privacy then? The sort of a thing a total stranger could do on you in public.
 
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mark-in-mk

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Mar 24, 2011
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What privacy? And what are you going to ask it anyway? If you have something you think is serious dial 111 or go and see your GP.
But say you did stub your toe, you can ask Alexa and it’ll tell you what to do, you do not go to A&E by the way unless you have it turning blue even if it’s broken, they won’t do anything.
Or say your bitten by some insect, simple things, hardly anything to worry about as it’s the kind of things you’ll moan about to your work colleagues.

Or say you need to perform CPR... that’s a life saver, if Alexa tells you what to do to save someone’s life are you going to worry about your privacy then? The sort of a thing a total stranger could do on you in public.
Theres a massive middle ground between trivial and critical that you've conveniently ignored. And people should have the right to privacy whatever the circumstance (with obvious legal exceptions)
 
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