Alexa Will Soon Put Users in Touch With Telehealth Doctors
Alexa can already play your favorite song or tell you whether it is going to rain, but soon you may also be able to tell the popular voice assistant to contact a doctor for health issues.
The service from Amazon and telemedicine provider Teladoc Health will be available around the clock on Amazon's Echo devices, the Associated Press reported.
After telling Alexa they want to talk to a doctor, customers will get a call back from a Teladoc physician. In some cases, doctors will be able to prescribe medications, according to details announced Monday.
Whether patients get a call back on the same day they make their request to Alexa may depend on the availability of doctors, Teladoc spokesman Chris Savarese told the AP.
Amazon will not be able to access, record or store the content of the ensuing call, he noted. The cost will depend on the patient's insurance. Without coverage, the fee will be $75.
The service will be audio-only to start, but the companies said they expect to soon add video, the AP reported.
Amazon already dispenses prescription drugs and is expanding a program called Amazon Care that was launched in 2019 and offers telemedicine visits with the option of an in-person visit.
Some hospitals already use Alexa as a voice assistant in patient rooms, and the U.K.'s National Health Service uses the voice assistant to help answer medical questions with advice from the service's website.
"Telehealth now is something that patients have gotten used to and may come to expect as an option for their care," Lori Uscher-Pines, a senior policy researcher with Rand Corp., told the AP. "[Before] the pandemic, there might not have been this much awareness that this was a service that was available."
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SOURCE: Associated Press