Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?”, or “Alexa, what are the symptoms of chicken pox?

Amazon’s voice-assisted technology service will answer the question based on content from the UK’s National Health Service website, similar to if you were looking for the information online, but customers are now able to ask for the same information via voice. The technology will help patients, especially the elderly, blind, and those who cannot access the internet through traditional means, by providing professional, clinically-verified health information from NHS in seconds through simple voice commands

Benefits of Voice Technology

Adi Latif is a 38-year-old who is blind. In his home of Camden, London, Adi uses Alexa and other voice-assisted technology for everyday tasks such as emailing, news updates, and ordering a taxi. The consultant at AbiltyNet, a charity which helps people with disabilities use innovations to make their lives easier, has welcomed the latest announcement but called for more NHS services to be made available through digital technology.

 Adi Latif wearing a stripey jumper and looking straight into camera from his home in Camden, London
Adi Latif

“It’s brilliant to know I can ask Alexa about various illnesses and receive credible, NHS verified information,” said Latif. “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 high tech, but they are designed in a way which allows you to have a conversation with them, making them less daunting to use”.

“NHS services need to be designed in a way that allows all people, including those who are blind or disabled, to access them easily from the convenience of their own home.”

Preserving Trust

Customer trust is of the utmost importance, and Amazon takes privacy very seriously. While content is now available with Alexa in the UK, Amazon doesn’t share the voice requests about general health information or other personal information with NHS. Amazon designs Alexa and Echo devices with multiple layers of privacy protection. All of the interactions with Alexa are encrypted in transit to Amazon’s cloud where they are securely stored.

Customers can review, listen to, and delete voice recordings associated with their account by going to the Alexa app and by going to Alexa privacy settings.

Commonly asked questions:

1. Does NHS.UK share data with Amazon or Alexa?

Alexa does not have access to any personal or private information from the NHS. General health-related content from the NHS website has been freely available to the public, and is available to Alexa users via voice technology. When information is requested, Alexa will answer the question using information from the NHS website, similar to if you were looking for the information online via a website.

2. Is Amazon paying the NHS.UK for this information?

There are no fees associated with the agreement – the collaboration provides trusted information already available on the NHS website to Alexa customers via voice technology, and absolutely no confidential data is shared by the NHS.

3. Are Alexa requests for health information being used by Amazon to create health profiles or for marketing purposes?

No. Amazon does not build customer health profiles based on interactions with content or use such requests for marketing purposes. Alexa does not have access to any personal or private information from the NHS.