Amazon’s popular Echo virtual assistant device can now offer helpful basic medical information to parents about their children through a new pediatrics app from Boston Children’s Hospital.
There are a lot of health apps out there for parents with questions about their kids’ health. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) KidsDoc app is a great general reference and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Vaccines on the Go app helps parents keep up with vaccine schedules. Now Boston Children’s is trying to bring similar resources to a new platform with the KidsMD app.
For anyone not familiar with the Echo, it’s a smart, web-connected device that’s activated by saying the “wake word” Alexa and responds to a host of commands. Setting an alarm, finding out the latest NBA score, turning up the temperature in your house, reporting the weather, calling up Uber service to your door, ordering pizza, and more are all possible using Echo. Much of this functionality is enabled through third-party apps on the Echo.
The KidsMD app for the Echo, produced by a team from Boston Children’s Hospital, can provide parents with information on diarrhea, sore throat, cough, rash, and several other common pediatric medical conditions. It also reportedly provides dosing information for over-the-counter medications, potentially a very helpful feature. It isn’t meant to replace a traditional visit with a physician, but rather provide helpful information to parents at home, just a voice command away. After activating the app, just saying “Alexa, ask KidsMD about [symptom]/dosing” will bring the app to life. It is geared not just to Amazon Echo, but any Amazon device that has the Alexa digital assistant feature (Fire TV, Dot and Tap speakers, etc).
Currently, there is another KidsMD app for smartphones that provides similar features, as well as immunization history tracking, developmental milestone tracking, and log medical history. It’s unclear if this app, supported by a team from Children’s Hospital Medical University of South Carolina, is linked to the KidsMD app that works with Amazon Echo.
What other medical applications could be added onto voice command services? Will Cortana, Siri, and Google Now be linking up with any medical apps to provide similar features? Given Google’s focus on delivered curated health information for medical questions, it seems like it would be a natural next step. In addition, with the history of some of the issues that these services have when responding to user questions about their health, these kinds of partnerships can’t come soon enough.