Amazon's New Alexa Features Let Users Ask Questions About Medications And Their Interactions.

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Amazon's New Alexa Features Let Users Ask Questions About Medications And Their Interactions

Amazon's voice-enabled virtual assistant Alexa now includes a feature that lets users ask questions about 1,500 of the most widely prescribed drugs — and their interactions — in the US, according to MedCity News.

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The new feature was enabled by a partnership between Amazon and First Databank, and came about after the retail giant recognized Alexa users were asking the voice assistant medication-related inquiries that it would sometimes decline to answer. For context, First Databank has a database of drug information including interactions and pricing for prescription and over-the-counter medications.

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Enabling users to ask Alexa about common prescriptions and their interactions could help cut down on costs associated with adverse drug interactions. The new Alexa feature could act as a preventative check to ensure users aren't taking a combination of medications that could harm them.

Alexa's new feature could insulate users from expensive hospitalizations that stem from taking an avoidable combination of drugs — which could reap massive savings, considering the cost of drug-related morbidity and mortality is upward of $136 billion annually. And these savings could go a long way toward providing the US health system some relief as US healthcare spending soars to new heights — reaching $3.6 trillion in 2018 alone.

The new Alexa feature is the latest in a series of healthcare-focused moves by Amazon — and we think we'll see the retail giant boost the value of its myriad endeavors by infusing them with Alexa. Amazon has been aggressively infiltrating the healthcare ecosystem across the last two years — with initiatives spanning across pharmacy, the medical supply chain, health insurance, and care delivery.

And Alexa has also been a component in its healthcare play: In November 2019, Amazon rolled out a new medication management feature for Alexa users that enables customers of regional pharmacy chain Giant Eagle Pharmacy to set medication reminders and order refills, for example. We think we'll see Amazon incorporate its voice assistant into its large-scale healthcare initiatives to drive up the value of its myriad endeavors.

For example, it's not hard to imagine a future where Amazon infuses its pharmacy business with Alexa to turn every Alexa-enabled device into a voice-powered pharmacy — which would be an especially attractive proposition for convenience-driven consumers: 51% of healthcare consumers say that convenience and access to care are the most important factors guiding their decision-making.

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