Advancements in technology, including the expansion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) services such as Amazon’s virtual voice assistant, Alexa, are making telehealth even more accessible and convenient for those seeking healthcare services from the comfort of their home. All that is required is a compatible device with the relevant app installed.
Amazon’s Alexa is a popular voice assistant that can now also provide a wide range of health-related services, including information on healthcare, reminders to take medication, and booking/facilitating telehealth visits with health practitioners. Let’s examine some of the telehealth services available from Amazon’s trusty virtual voice assistant, Alexa.
1. Teladoc Health Virtual Doctor Visits
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a spurt in the growth of telemedicine and the number of people relying on telehealth services to meet their day-to-day health needs. In 2022, Amazon collaborated with Teladoc Health to launch a hands-free, voice-activated telehealth service accessible 24/7 via Alexa on supported Echo devices. The service allows users in the US to connect with a Teladoc healthcare provider to seek assistance with general health conditions such as for treatment of the common cold, flu, or allergies. During your initial call with Teladoc, your medical history and medical insurance information will be captured. Thereafter, by simply using the voice command “Alexa, I want to talk to a doctor,” you will be connected to the Teladoc call center, and a Teladoc health care provider will call you back on your Echo device and provide you with medical assistance. The cost is $75 per visit, but may cost you nothing if your medical insurance fully covers the cost of the virtual consultation.
2. One Medical Telehealth Services
After recently acquiring One Medical, Amazon now offers access to another telehealth service via 24/7 video chat or messaging. The service also offers online appointment booking and in-app prescription requests and renewals. One Medical, which has offices in several cities across the US, also offers in-person visits should patients prefer to see a health practitioner in-person or need to be referred to a specialist.
3. Amazon Pharmacy
Amazon Pharmacy is covered by most medical insurance plans and offers discount coupons, as well as further savings for Amazon Prime members. Amazon Pharmacy will arrange the transfer of your prescription and remind you when it’s time to order a refill. Medication refills, which are packaged discreetly and conveniently delivered directly to your door, can also be ordered by simply saying: “Alexa, refill my medication.”
4. Alexa Together
Alexa Together is a remotely operated subscription-based caregiving service that allows you to monitor and support a loved one via their Echo device even though you can’t actually be with them in person. It allows your loved one to live independently while offering you peace of mind that they are okay and that their basic needs are being met in your absence, alleviating stress that could negatively impact your mental health. Alexa Together allows you to set up alerts that send notifications to your phone when your loved one interacts with Alexa or uses their smart device. If there is no activity, you will know and can take action. It also features a Remote Assist setting that lets you manage settings on your loved one’s device, check their shopping lists, set reminders for them remotely, and more. In an emergency, your loved one can also make a hands-free call to Alexa Together’s Urgent Response team, which is on call 24/7, simply by saying “Alexa, call for help.”
5. Mayo Clinic First Aid Advice
You can also get basic first aid advice by asking Alexa to access the Mayo Clinic First Aid skill after enabling it on your Alexa supported device. By saying “Alexa, open Mayo First Aid,” and then asking for advice on a specific topic, such as how to treat your baby’s fever; how to treat a cut, burn, spider bite or bee sting; or how to perform CPR, you will be provided with the relevant self-care instructions to allow you to perform basic first aid at home. For life-threatening emergencies, you should seek medical assistance.
6. Medical Information Via WebMD
After enabling the WebMD Alexa skill, you will have access to a trove of medical information via the WebMD platform. Instead of searching the WebMD database by typing your medical question into the search bar, you can take the hands-free approach by asking Alexa to conduct the search for you simply by saying “Alexa, ask WebMD,” followed by your question.
7. WebMD Medication Reminders
The WebMD Med Reminders skill is another Alexa skill that can be activated to send you reminders to take your medication via an Alexa supported device. These reminders will also sync with your smartphone if the WebMD app is installed and you’re logged into your WebMD account.
Telehealth technology is expanding rapidly. While some of the more advanced technologies used in telemedicine are limited to medical professionals, others such as those accessible by Alexa are readily available to the general public, allowing them to access medical information and healthcare without leaving the couch or even lifting a finger.