"Hey Alexa, Give Me Some Bad Medical Advice": Patients Must Know the Risks of Virtual Assistants

October 15, 2018 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​Patients should be cautioned against using virtual assistants to answer medical questions, according to a study in the September 2018 issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research. Noting that the use of conversational assistants, such as Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa, is becoming widespread, the authors report that many users believe searching by use of these assistants is more accurate than searching the web. However, relying on these assistants for medical advice presents a significant safety risk for patients. The authors conducted a study in which 54 subjects were assigned a medical or health question (such as a medication query or advice in an emergency situation) to ask Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant. They were then asked to determine the proper course of action based on the results.

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