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Amazon's Alexa Focuses on Healthcare: How are Others Placed?

Amazon AMZN isn’t content on resting on laurels as evident from its initiatives to expand further in the multi-trillion healthcare sector. The e-commerce giant is leaving no stone unturned to disrupt the healthcare sector with the aid of its robust voice assistant that is helping it to forge partnerships and win clients.

The latest partnership between Britain's state-run health service organization, National Health Service (NHS), and Amazon, by which the former will leverage the power of Alexa to provide better services, is a testament to the aforesaid fact.

This will enable people to enhance their health management skills in case of common ailments like flu and migraine, among others, by asking Alexa for medical advice. Notably, these health-related suggestions and information will be verified by NHS.

One of the primary goals of the partnership is to ease the healthcare management process by reducing the number of visits to doctors. This in turn will reduce the healthcare cost for patients and reduce pressure on doctors.

Additionally, this is likely to provide a competitive edge to Amazon against other tech giants Alphabet’s GOOGL Google, Microsoft MSFT and Apple AAPL, which are also making every effort to improve their virtual assistants – Google Assistant, Cortana and Siri, respectively, to expand presence in the healthcare management system.

Scope for Virtual Assistants in Healthcare

The virtual assistants integrated with AI techniques have gained significance in the healthcare industry. This is because these assistants are becoming increasingly beneficial in this data-driven world as these are capable of making daily life easier by handling small but inevitable tasks smartly and efficiently on voice commands,

Moreover, improving AI skills are likely to bolster adoption rate of these voice assistants in the hospitals. These tools are well equipped to take care of billing, claims management and inventory on behalf of the healthcare providers.

Further, hospitals are exploring new uses of virtual assistance in intensive care units and surgical recovery room so that these become capable of monitoring doctor-patient interactions and suggesting treatment approaches.

Healthcare Battle Intensifies

Given the scenario, we believe that the virtual assistance market holds immense growth potential due to its healthcare capabilities, which in turn is intensifying the battle among tech giants.

In a test conducted by Stone Temple, Google Assistant performed the best by answering 80% of the healthcare related questions and attaining an accuracy rate of 95%.

Cortana could answer over 60% of questions asked and achieved about 90% accuracy while
Siri answered over 40% of questions with an accuracy of around 80%.

Meanwhile, Alexa could answer slightly more than half of the questions with an accuracy rate of 85%.

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Amazon’s Aggressive Stance

Amazon is well poised to rapidly penetrate the healthcare space backed by its strengthening Alexa skills, which currently is equipped with over 90,000 skills. Further, the company will be able to gain traction among senior citizens, blind and ones who are not internet friendly with the help of its tie-up with NHS.

Additionally, this is likely to bolster the adoption rate of Alexa and its powered devices, which in turn will strengthen the company’s position in the virtual assistant market. Furthermore, Amazon, which carries a Zacks Rank #3, has a health & wellness team within its existing Alexa team in a bid to focus more on developing voice assisted health care applications.

Notably, Alexa is already in use by Boston Children’s Hospital. The hospital has created an app, KidsMD, which leverages the power of Alexa. Notably, the app advises parents when their children suffer from fever.

Moreover, Alexa has been installed in patients’ rooms at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. This allows patients to call for a nurse, order a meal or complete other routine tasks. Northwell Health has also adopted Alexa to help patients in identifying wait times at local emergency rooms and urgent care centers.

Google’s Growing Initiatives

Google Assistant has relatively less exposure to the healthcare market in comparison with Alexa. However, it will be a mistake to ignore its strong efforts to gain traction across doctors and patients.

Its availability on smartphones makes it capable of delivering seamless experience to both the parties for searching for any healthcare related queries hands free.

Further, Google Assistant users are allowed to receive reliable health advice, thanks to the integration of Mayo Clinic’s First Aid tool into it.

We note that Google’s growing focus toward strengthening the medical skills of its virtual assistant holds promise for the company in healthcare industry.

Google’s parent Alphabet carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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