Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is teaming up with Amazon to provide medical advice for common ailments via the tech giant’s voice assistant Alexa.
The plan is to give patients access to information verified by the NHS by using voice commands, the government said.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said millions of people were already asking Alexa and other voice assistants about health matters, and he wanted to make sure they received the very best advice in response.
He said the service would be backed by strong privacy rules to protect patient confidentiality.
“There is a clear protocol in place that Amazon has and that we have in the NHS,” he told BBC radio.
The U.S. company’s algorithm uses information from the NHS website to provide answers to voice questions such as “Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?” or “Alexa, what are the symptoms of chickenpox”.
Alexa sources answers to such questions from a variety of places, including the Mayo Clinic and WebMD.
The deal marks the latest move by Amazon into healthcare following its purchase of online pharmacy PillPack last year and a tie-up with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co in the United States aimed at cutting health costs for hundreds of thousands of their employees.
Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices such as Echo and Echo Dot range in price from about 50 pounds ($62) to more than 200 pounds.