The NHS are embracing digital transformation and modernising the 70-year-old health service.
The NHS and Amazon plan to bring voice-assisted technology to elderly, visually impaired and other types of patients. These patients tend to struggle accessing information through the internet, so giving them access to Amazon Echo's 'Alexa' will hopefully reduce this stress. Patients will be able to ask all sorts of health related questions, where Alexa will answer with information drawn directly from the NHS website.
This partnership between the health service and Amazon was announced today, and has been established in the hopes that it will not only aid patients who struggle with the internet and modern day technology, but it will also reduce the stress on the NHS itself. Patients will have more freedom and independence with access to technology such as Alexa, resulting in less reliance on patients physically seeing a GP. Voice-assisted technology has become a huge part of our every day lives, whether it's Siri or through your Smart TV, and it is expected that by 2020, half of all searches will be made through voice-assisted technology.
The Department of Health (DoS) have stressed the importance of modernising the NHS, and say that access to this technology will empower patients whilst relieving some pressure on the NHS by providing important information about common illnesses.
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said the following:
"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."
Although, the Amazon Echo devices will not be provided to patients for free, the NHS app that is made to work in conjunction with Alexa will be free.
The Guardian spoke to 38-year-old, Adi Latif, who is registered blind and already uses Alexa on a daily-basis said:
"It cuts out all the searching online, which can be a traumatic experience for many people, especially those who are disabled or not familiar with technology. Smart speakers such as Alexa are no doubt hi-tech, but they are designed in a way which allows you to have a conversation with them, making them less daunting to use."
NHSX is in charge of overseeing the roll-out of digital transformation throughout the NHS, and the chief executive of the NHSX, Matthew Gould, said:
"By working closely with Amazon and other tech companies, big and small, we can ensure that the millions of users looking for health information every day can get simple, validated advice at the touch of a button or voice command."
"Part of our mission at NHSX is to give citizens the tools to access services and information directly, and partnerships such as this are an important part of achieving this."
The NHS is committed to embracing digital transformation and making more of its services available on digital platforms.
We at The One Point are really pleased to hear about this news, following on from the Humber Care Tech Challenge last year. Our Digital team assisted with healthcare organisation, Humbercare, to develop technology solutions to help the NHS deliver unique Amazon voice-assisted services for patients to use in their own homes.