Amazon's Alexa now offers health advice from the Mayo Clinic

By Dave Muoio
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Basic health information and advice provided by the Mayo Clinic is now available on Amazon Alexa-enabled devices. Owners who have downloaded the Mayo Clinic First Aid skill (Amazon’s version of apps) need only voice their concerns to receive answers to dozens of everyday health issues or other self-care instructions.

“Mayo Clinic produces trusted, evidence-based health guidance to empower people to effectively manage their health,” Dr. Sandhya Pruthi, general internal medicine physician and associate medical director at Mayo Clinic Global Business Solutions, said in a statement. “This is the first health guidance skill Mayo Clinic has developed and launched for Amazon Alexa. Voice-enabled experience is a new and growing channel for reaching people and delivering information they are seeking, whether or not they have an existing relationship with Mayo Clinic.”

Users may open the voice-driven platform to access and browse a listing of common health topics. Otherwise, vocally addressing Alexa with the name of the skill and a specific question will prompt a spoken response from the device.

The Mayo Clinic First-Aid skill does not replace medical care and should not be used in emergency situations, the provider cautions. It joins the clinic’s other Amazon Alexa service, Mayo Clinic News Network, which offers listeners a 60-second daily presentation with easy-to-understand health tips.

But the Mayo Clinic is not the only provider of health info in the Amazon Alexa ecosystem. This March, WebMD launched their own integration with the platform to provide users information on a range of health-related topics such as conditions, medication, tests, and treatments. Users of the WebMD skill can have the information read to them aloud, or sent as text to their Alexa app.

"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,” WebMD Vice President Ben Greenberg, whose product team developed the new voice capabilities, said in a statement accompanying the launch.

Other voice-assisted health services available on Amazon Alexa include Fitbit integration, Boston Children’s Hospital’s KidsMD skill, and Healthtap’s Doctor AI diagnosis tool.