How Amazon's Alexa May Soon Help You Book Your Next Telehealth Appointment

"Hey, Alexa, call my doctor," might be the next command you give your Amazon Echo device. U.S. News & World Report says that Amazon has teamed up with Teladoc Health to connect customers with a healthcare provider. Upon requesting to speak with a physician, a member of the Teladoc Health team will give the patient a call. In addition to addressing the concern, the doctor will also be able to prescribe medications if necessary. Chris Savarese, a spokesman for Teladoc, said that customers might not receive a callback the same day, and it will depend on the number of physicians available. The service will be available for $75 if insurance doesn't cover it.

Initially, the rollout will be audio-only, but Amazon and Teledoc Health plan to expand to video. With privacy being a top concern, patients should know that conversations will not be recorded or stored, and Amazon will not have any access to information discussed (per U.S. News & World Report).

How the pandemic helped shape telehealth

The onset of the pandemic has forced the medical industry to evolve rapidly over the past two years, and telehealth is a key player changing the game. According to Becker's Hospital Review, a study by The Harris Poll found that 35% of people would consider replacing their primary care provider with an equally qualified telehealth doctor. Becker's Hospital Review also shared a survey conducted by the American Psychiatric Association, which found that 43% of adults plan to continue using telehealth services even after the pandemic subsides, and 34% said they'd rather see a doctor through telehealth than in-person.

Before conversations about vaccines and booster shots took over our lives, Amazon had already launched a telehealth program in 2019 called Amazon Care. Through this platform, customers could receive prescriptions and schedule doctor visits with the option of meeting virtually or in person. Amazon Care proved to benefit providers just as much as patients. U.S. News & World Report said some hospitals use Alexa in their patients' rooms. Overseas, the U.K. National Health Service relies on Alexa to answer medical questions and offer advice through their website.

Lori Uscher-Pines, a senior policy researcher with Rand Corp., told U.S. News & World Report that the level of awareness of telehealth services wouldn't be what it is without the pandemic.