Mayo Clinic develops Covid-19 skill for Amazon Alexa
May 5, 2020
Mayo Clinic has developed a skill for Amazon’s Alexa cloud-based voice service that answers questions about the Covid-19 pandemic.
Users with an Alexa-enabled device, such as Amazon Echo and Echo Dot, can enable the skill to get information from Mayo Clinic experts on the pandemic and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
Alexa skills are voice-activated applications that add capabilities to Alexa-enabled devices and mobile devices with speech-recognition technology.
"With a rapidly developing pandemic like Covid-19, delivering trusted health information on how to respond to our patients and the public is critical," said Sandhya Pruthi (pictured), a Mayo Clinic physician and medical director for Mayo's health education and content services. "The Mayo Clinic Answers on Covid-19 skill for Alexa offers the latest information on symptoms, prevention and how to cope in a hands-free way using only the voice – a fact that is especially important when we're trying to reduce the spread of a virus transmitted by physical contact."
To access, first enable the skill on an Alexa-enabled device by saying, "Alexa, open Mayo Clinic Answers on Covid-19". Then ask questions about Covid-19, such as: "What are the symptoms of coronavirus?" Answers will be drawn from experts at Mayo Clinic and CDC.
The skill includes the Mayo Clinic Covid-19 self-assessment tool that helps users determine if they should seek testing. This tool is also available on the MayoClinic web site. The voice skill cautions users that if they are having a health emergency, they should seek immediate medical assistance.
This is the second Alexa skill that Mayo has developed. The Mayo Clinic First-Aid skill offers expert self-care guidance for treating dozens of incidents. To access the skill, say, "Alexa, open Mayo Clinic First-Aid", and then ask for a topic, such as: "How do I treat a scrape to prevent infection?"
Pruthi recently served as co-editor of a book on the intersection of voice technology and health care – "Voice Technology in Healthcare: Leveraging Voice to Enhance Patient and Provider Experience" – published in March. The Mayo Clinic voice team, including Lee Engfer, Joyce Even, Paula Marlow, Jay Maxwell and Jennifer Warner, contributed a chapter to the book detailing Mayo Clinic's patient-centred voice strategy.
"For Mayo Clinic, voice technologies allow us to deliver information and care when, where and how people wish to access it," said Pruthi. "Accurate, easily accessible information is key to fighting this pandemic, and voice technologies are another avenue to get information to the public."