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Amazon's Alexa will reduce pharmacists' pressure, claims Matt Hancock

The NHS collaboration with Amazon’s voice-assisted technology will help to “reduce the pressure” on pharmacists, health secretary Matt Hancock has said.

As part of the collaboration, people will be able to access “NHS-verified health information in seconds” via internet giant Amazon’s voice-activated device, Alexa, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) announced today (July 10).

People will be able to ask questions around common illnesses, such as: "Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?" and "Alexa, what are the symptoms of flu?", and receive health information from the NHS website – formerly the NHS Choices website, the DH explained.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said this technology will “empower every patient to take better control of their healthcare”, thereby “reducing the pressure on our hardworking GPs and pharmacists”.

As part of the NHS long-term planpublished in January – the commissioning body pledged to make more NHS services available digitally. The Amazon Alexa partnership supports this commitment, the DH said.

RPS: Internet is like “wild west”

Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said while information from the NHS website being relayed by Alexa will “widen access” to high quality advice, the internet is “like the wild west” when it comes to health advice.

It will “never replace the importance of a face-to-face consultation”, he stressed.

“Seeing a pharmacist, with their expert training and knowledge, enables the patient to ask follow up questions and ensure they receive more personalised care.”

Do you think Amazon Alexa will reduce pressure in your pharmacy?

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