Alexa, Amazon’s incredibly smart voice-activated assistant, is capable of just about anything – from ordering a pizza to calling a taxi to turning on the smart bulbs around the house. Alexa truly enhances the lives of those who use it, and it’s recently become even smarter than ever before! How? That’s simple: Alexa has joined forces with WebMD, the leading source for the latest health and medical news.
Medical Guidance – Just One Short Voice Request Away!
Is it just a stomach ache or something worse? Now it’s easier than ever to find out! Amazon’s Alexa is adding medical advice to its set of more than 10,000 skills. Just when you thought the virtual assistant couldn’t get any smarter! The software will offer users WebMD’s content library to give them the most accurate, up-to-date health information possible. All enabled devices, including Fire TV, Echo, and Echo Dot, will allow users to ask health-related queries on a wide range of topics:
- Treatments for common ailments
- Definitions of various conditions and diseases
- Side effects of prescription drugs
- And much more
Ben Greenberg, WebMD’s Vice President of Mobile Products, told The Verge, “We want to be in the place where we believe computing is going, “[This] is going to be really helpful in situations where you want to access something hands-free. For example, a mom with her baby. The baby’s got a rash and is on amoxicillin, and there’s poop all over the place and it’s scary. The mom can find out that diarrhea is a side effect of amoxicillin, without having to navigate through a visual interface.”
He also stated, “There are a number of reasons that voice-enabled interfaces are growing in popularity – they are generally hands-free, people can talk faster than they type, and when done right, they make it easier for consumers to quickly and easily get to the information they need.”
Health-related queries will be responded to with physician-reviewed answers in plain, accessible voice. The option to request additional information sent in text form will also be available if needed. When this option is selected, you will also receive a URL to a WebMD page for more resources.
Ready to Make Use of Your Favorite Virtual Assistant’s Newest Feature?
If you’re ready to get started, simply add the skill via the app store. Go to the sidebar menu button in the top-left corner of the app screen, then type “WebMD” inside of the search box and search. Once you’ve found it, install and start your command with “Alexa, ask WebMD…” Just remember, despite physicians verifying the information you’re given, it’s always best to go to your doctor with any serious concerns.
However, for those times where you want to learn more about a pre-existing condition or hear about the side effects of a prescription drug, the feature is great! It’s especially fantastic if you’re not able to pick up your phone or laptop.
Eventually, WebMD would like to make various updates to improve the interface while adding the ability to ask follow-up questions. Greenberg stated, “The voice part of it is a crucial investment to where we will be one day. Our grandkids will make fun of us forever having used a keyboard!”
Other Health Integrations You Might Be Interested In…
Aside from WebMD, Alexa has a few other interesting health integrations users might be interested in. Over a year ago, Alexa teamed up with Fitbit, a company known for its wearable products designed to keep track of user’s health data. This partnership allows you to track important information regarding your sleep, activity, and weight anytime from your tracking wearables.
Boston Children’s Hospital also partnered with Alexa to create an app known as KidsMD – giving parents vital details on their children’s health conditions and medications. In the future, we’re sure to see more health integrations coming. Rob Pulciani, Director of Amazon Alexa, stated, “we’re excited that WebMD is bringing its skill to Alexa.”
Pulciani continued, “With the WebMD skill, customers can get answers to health questions simply by asking Alexa. It highlights the convenience of a more natural spoken language experience.”
Recent studies have shown that the number of people turning to the Internet for information on a diverse range of health subjects continues to grow at a rapid rate. In fact, according to Google, 1% of its searches are health-related. This showcases the strong need for WebMD and Alexa’s partnership.
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