Amazon has partnered with the NHS to allow users of its Alexa devices to seek answers to medical queries in a bid to reduce strain on GPs.
The tie-up, which will mean users who ask their device medical questions such as “Alexa, how do I treat a cold?” or “Alexa, what are the symptoms of flu?” receive answers directly from the official NHS website, will be implemented from this week.
The agreement first came into play last year with more companies such as Microsoft looking to be included in related deals with the health service.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS was right to “embrace” technology through partnerships like these, adding that he expects it and similar deals to reduce strain on “hard-working GPs and pharmacists”.
Concerns have been raised about Amazon having access to its user’s medical data.
Privacy International researcher Eva Blum-Dumontet said: “Our medical information is often the most sensitive data there is about us and a lot can be inferred from the questions we ask and the searches we make when we have health concerns, so Amazon will have to clarify what steps they plan on taking to protect their users’ privacy and if they will be using that data for their own commercial purposes.”
An Amazon spokesman told The Times: “All data was encrypted and kept confidential. Customers are in control of their voice history and can review or delete recordings.”