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Mayo trains Amazon's Alexa in first aid

Mayo trains Amazon's Alexa in first aid

"Alexa, ask Mayo First Aid how do I treat my baby’s fever?"

Mayo Clinic is teaming up with Amazon to provide non-emergency medical advice through the company's voice assistant, Alexa. 

Known as Mayo Clinic First Aid, the free program provides users with voice-driven, self-care instructions for dozens of common medical occurrences, from conducting CPR to treating a burn.

The Alexa voice service is available through Amazon devices, such as the Echo. A survey published in May estimated that Amazon had sold more than 10 million Alexa-powered Echos since late 2014, with their popularity still on the rise.

"Voice-enabled experience is a new and growing channel for reaching people and delivering information they are seeking, whether or not they have an existing relationship with Mayo Clinic," said Dr. Sandhya Pruthi, associate medical director for Mayo's Global Business Solutions division. "Creating this first-aid skill is another way Mayo Clinic can provide relevant information to consumers where and when it’s needed.”

Mayo Clinic Global Business Solutions developed the service with the Alexa Skills Kit, a set of self-service tools to help developers create new capabilities for Alexa-enabled devices.

Amazon's Alexa is a voice-activated software that allows users to request songs or check the weather on verbal command.

Mayo is not being paid for the content. It offers the disclaimer that the first-aid service "should not be used if a person is in a life-threatening or emergency medical situation. In those situations, individuals should seek immediate medical assistance."

The app is the latest in a series of moves by Mayo to expand its reach across the world. In 2015, the Global Business Solutions division announced it had hooked up with Google to make Mayo the first result for searches on a number of common health conditions. 

Now, type "flu" into Google and you will find an illustration accompanied by Mayo Clinic-sourced medical facts, like how common the condition is or if it’s contagious (it is). 

The Rochester-based hospital system has also been expanding its Care Network to places like Singapore and China. The network allows partnering institutions to connect with Mayo Clinic specialists for consultations and access its extensive database of research information and educational materials.

Cover photo: File / Creative Commons

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