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NHS will use smart speakers to identify at-risk patients

Milo smart speaker
Image Credit: Hogar
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The UK's National Health Service will leverage smart speaker technology to identify patients at risk of self-harm or suicide, according to a report published today (February 11).

Commissioned by the NHS, Dr Eric Topol's report pointed to the inevitable implementation of digital technologies in the health service, such as AI medical scanners and even forms of therapy hosted in virtual reality - and signalled the use of voice assistants to enhance the amount of patient support available.

The report also clarified that London hospices were already laying the groundwork for AI-based patient support.

Increasing calls for mental health provision have been one of the major challenges facing the NHS in recent years, and it's no surprise it's looking to technology to assist with it.

Smart assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are now widely implemented in millions of homes and businesses, and regular citizens' are increasingly prepared to use voice-controlled AI for a number of daily tasks.

I hear you

Years after the advent of health service 'chatbots', designed to help users through common health concerns, smart assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant are finding a wide variety of health related uses in the NHS and elsewhere.

The technology is likely to prove a double-edged sword; while using robot assistants to listen to people's problems may be time-efficient, it's easy to feel an emotional disconnect when you're not speaking to a real, living doctor.

When looking to new tech to improve our mental health, we have to make sure it doesn't further isolate us from each other - otherwise what good is it doing?

Via The Telegraph

Henry is a freelance technology journalist. Before going freelance, he spent more than three years at TechRadar reporting on TVs, projectors and smart speakers as the website's Home Cinema Editor – and has been interviewed live on both BBC World News and Channel News Asia, discussing the future of transport and 4K resolution televisions respectively. As a graduate of English Literature and persistent theatre enthusiast, he'll usually be found forcing Shakespeare puns into his technology articles, which he thinks is what the Bard would have wanted. Bylines also include Edge, T3, and Little White Lies.