Can Alexa improve your health?

AbilityNet Accessibility consultant Adi Latif has contributed to a UK government video demonstrating the value of digital tech for people with specific needs. The video sets out specific goals for the NHS to invest in tech such as Amazon Echo (Alexa) and VoiceOver, showing how accessible technology can deliver health benefits and provide greater independence for people with disabilities.

AbilityNet's Adi Latif spoke at the BMA Conference in June 2018 about the role of tech in helping disabled people with their health care

Adi is an Accessibility & Usability Consultant at AbilityNet. He has a visual impairment and he uses a wide range of tech including VoiceOver on iPhone, Alexa, laptop with screenreader, Be My Eyes app, Seeing AI app, iWatch and a Braille display. 

Adi spoke at the British Medical Association's Annual Conference in June 2018 - sharing his insights about how medical healthcare could be improved in terms of accessibility. He has now worked with officials from the Department of Health to discuss the potential benefits of accessible tech in meeting people's health needs.

He says that accessible health-related apps and websites would give him control over this vital aspect in life: 

‘I can book train tickets. Send and receive emails from my phone or manage my finances through my banking apps, but I can’t manage my medical healthcare. This is a great opportunity for the Government to take a lead in ensuring that NHS services meet the highest standards of accessibility for all patients.'

He sees lots of opportunities for using Alexa to communicate with the NHS and suggested some ideas for the future: 

  • Asking Alexa for basic medical advice  - for example 'Alexa, I’ve cut my finger, what should I do?’
  • Asking Alexa to tell him test results or when his next hospital appointment is as at the moment, so he wouldn’t need to rely on paper.
  • Using a video camera (for example on Amazon Show) to connect with an NHS GP to avoid travelling to the surgery.
  • The camera would also allow him to show the NHS GP any physical symptoms which he may not be able to see for himself.

Adi believes that voice interfaces such as Alexa are potentially easier for people, especially for older people, as they may find smart phones or computers hard to operate.  Using your is almost like having a conversation, and so can be more natural.

The video showing Adi’s experience was posted on the Department of Health & Social Care Twitter page after an introductory speech by Matt Hancock his new role as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Matt Hancock is tech-savvy and wants the NHS to use tech to become more productive and accessible for people with disabilities. 

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