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Using Alexa for health advice

(43 Posts)
suziewoozie Wed 10-Jul-19 12:06:39

I’ve got mixed feelings on this. I use the internet occasionally, usually start with NHS website, for health advice. I’m savvy enough to know how to navigate through all the possible sites that pop up and avoid the ( to me) obviously spurious , possibly dangerous ones. But because of the latter, at first thought using Alexa in conjunction with DH, will mean that users are provided with bona fide advice. However, two caveats ;will this reduce visits to the doctors ( the aim) or increase them and, as some people are saying, can we trust Amazon with our health data?

Urmstongran Wed 10-Jul-19 12:20:00

Matt Hancock told SKY news he doesn’t want an Alexa (nor do I) but for those who do use them, they already use Alexa’s to ask about health issues. He wants to ensure the balanced view from the highly reputable U.K. NHS gets quoted - not just an answer from any internet source.

He gave an example: ‘should I vaccinate my children?’
and he wants to make sure the answer is ‘yes’.

Charleygirl5 Wed 10-Jul-19 12:24:04

I have an Alexa but that is the last thing I would use it for. Admittedly with my background, I doubt if I would ever need to do so.

suziewoozie Wed 10-Jul-19 12:26:32

Yes Urm I understand the reasoning behind it - I am interested in a) whether it will work as intended and b) can Amazon be trusted with our health information?

EllanVannin Wed 10-Jul-19 12:31:53

I think most of us are aware of ourown personal " health problems " but if we acquire a sudden and strange symptom then the safest place is the GP who would know your medical history to see if it's connected to the on-going problem/s.

Alexa probably wouldn't be telling me anything I didn't already know.

suziewoozie Wed 10-Jul-19 12:39:38

Good point Ellan - the more I think about this, the more I’m convinced it’s really just a bit of a gimmick.

Urmstongran Wed 10-Jul-19 12:50:13

I agree suzie probably a gimmick some extent but with good intentions behind it.

The bottom line, you’re right - is do we trust Amazon?

Matt Hancock said ‘safeguards would be put in place’.

Even though he won’t have an Alexa!!

suziewoozie Wed 10-Jul-19 12:54:19

Every single organisation which is ever hacked always has safeguards in place 😀

EllanVannin Wed 10-Jul-19 13:10:12

Can you imagine all the tomfoolery that'll be going on during the school holidays ? Alexa will be inundated with all kinds of weird and wonderful questions.

Doodle Wed 10-Jul-19 13:19:43

Alexa* I have a desire to bash a little box in my lounge because it won’t turn my b****y lights on when I ask it to. Do you think I am suffering from automatonophobia?

Anniebach Wed 10-Jul-19 13:53:22

Why not phone ‘NHS Direct’ ?

glammanana Wed 10-Jul-19 14:00:21

Anniebach Completly "tounge in cheek" but you may probably get a more responsible answer from Alexa than NHS Direct from what I've heard.

suziewoozie Wed 10-Jul-19 14:13:49

NHS 111 isn’t there to provide information about issues like the example that Matt Hancock gave but to ring if you are ill. The last time I used them was a Saturday morning and I didn’t know if I should, given my sudden painful symptoms, wait for the GP on Monday morning or if it merited immediate concern. They basically follow a script but I felt really listened to and was dispatched to the OOH service at a local hospital and was triaged into A and E. By Sunday lunchtime, I was on the two week cancer referral pathway. It wasn’t cancer by the way but I couldn’t fault NHS 111 or my care in A andE. I wonder what the interface will be between Alexa and 111? We probably need to know more detail.

BlueBelle Wed 10-Jul-19 14:19:51

I think it could be a good idea for some of the very mundane questions a doctor must get that holds up his surgery for really ill people but I think it’s meaning more generalised questions that you might normally google just an alternative I suppose I don’t think they are meaning it to be instead of seeing a doctor

Anniebach Wed 10-Jul-19 14:22:32

Two weeks ago when my spine seized up, surgery closed for training , NHS Direct sent an ambulance, would this be arranged by Alexa ?

suziewoozie Wed 10-Jul-19 14:28:13

That was good treatment anniebach. I hope it’s made clear that there is a very clear difference between what you do when you are worried by symptoms on the one hand and on the other hand how to access accurate and reliable health information when you need it.

Purpledaffodil Wed 10-Jul-19 14:35:39

Our surgery has introduced Livi, you register and can talk to a real GP on FaceTime within minutes. Worked for DH when he was getting very anxious about some symptoms. Livi doc arranged appt with RL GP locally (our practice wasn’t making any appointments while they switched to a new system!) RL doctor did a physical check and arranged for blood tests and x Ray. Most importantly she reassured DH as did Livi doctor.
This is a good use of technology in my opinion. Think I’ll stick to asking Alexa to play chamber music and do Vicky Pollard impressions. 😆

suziewoozie Wed 10-Jul-19 14:43:40

Purple - like the sound of Livi.

Baggs Wed 10-Jul-19 16:05:37

I don't have Alexa and neither does my student daughter but perhaps something like this would be useful when (a) many students can't register with a GP in their university town because all the GPs have full lists already, (b) even when they do manage to register, surgery managers kick them off the GP's list when they go into temporary summer accommodation that's outside the GP's catchment area (which the actual GP treating them said wouldn't be a problem).

Just wondering. Not impressed with the GP system in Scotland's capital at the moment. Can you tell?

Hospital system has messed DD about too because of miscommunications. IF she can register with another GP she will need a fourth referral to even begin to sort something out. Ridiculous!

Gonegirl Wed 10-Jul-19 16:19:11

Hope Mini Baggs is ok Baggs.

(Not so mini these days I guess smile)

Baggs Wed 10-Jul-19 16:25:54

Thank you, Gg.

BlueBelle Wed 10-Jul-19 16:31:54

I m sure it’s not meant to take over emergencies Annibach just to help with doctors time with mundane, easy answered questions

suziewoozie Wed 10-Jul-19 17:17:49

I do wonder how many people go the GPS with easily answered questions though - I thought one problem was people going with a sniffle or sore throat? My guess would be that those sorts of people would still go the GPS

sodapop Wed 10-Jul-19 17:30:09

Well if anyone is silly enough to consult Alexa on their medical symptoms they deserve everything they get.

25Avalon Thu 11-Jul-19 10:01:16

Probably not unless it was something simple. read a newspaper article and I was not impressed with the answers that Alexa gives or doesn't give. I would rather google several websites as I do now including some very good US ones as well as NHS or even a forum. If symptoms persist or I think it's something more serious I would contact my GP or the pharmacist at the local chemist.