A dedicated team of nurses, doctors, pharmacists and other experts have all contributed to an amazing resource of validated health information on the NHS website. 44 million people in the UK visited the website in June alone, and another 8 million people who live abroad have also visited the website in the same month.
It is very important that people can get clinically validated information when they look for medical information online, and the government would prefer them getting NHS information on the website, which is free to use and is also available through the new NHS app.
The NHSX have built an interface known as an API (application processing interface) into their content on the NHS website. This enables others to make NHS available through their own websites. This service is freely available at developer.api.nhs.uk. This will ensure that more people are helped to manage their own care by having easier access to certified NHS information.
This validated health content has already been made available to a few different places, including econsult, a system used by a number of GP practices to advise patients, accuRx, a patient messaging tool, and NHS Go, which is designed to better inform younger people about their health.
Because of many people looking for information in a variety of different ways, the NHS website has made content available using Alexa. About 20% of searches are via voice, and this is bound to increase in the future.
Voice search is becoming more popular with all age groups, the biggest being people aged 35-54 in the UK. The voice technologies have been an immense help for people with disabilities, making their lives much easier.
There have been a few debates regarding the announcement of the collaboration with Alexa, and a few things need to be clarified.
Firstly, the NHS is not paying for this service. The information is already freely available, so this is a collaborative initiative. The ways of how you can access the information have been increased, adding voice alongside the keyboards.
Secondly, data privacy is taken very seriously, and all the data-driven technology projects are underpinned by a Code of Conduct. No patient data is being provided to Amazon or Alexa.
Thirdly, GP and A&E appointments and visits are not to be replaced by Alexa. Many of those visits are unnecessary, and people getting the best NHS information will help them make the best decision possible regarding their medical issue. They will make informed decisions about whether or not to go to a GP or visit A&E. People will be able to improve their self-care and ask for a pharmacist’s advice.
Most searches on the NHS website are for common ailments, and also how to control symptoms for those already living with long-term ailments. With the help of Alexa and the NHS medical information, people will be able to easily improve their quality of life, and potentially save their own time as well as alleviate pressure on the NHS.
The NHS can meet the needs of people and take advantage of what modern technology can offer us as a nation.