Alexa in the Future Could Include Doctor/Patient Teleconferencing

Amazon’s smart speakers have turned Alexa into a top personal assistant, as it not only plays music but handles reminders, organizes appointments, etc. But syncing with the V2MD interface could allow patients and doctors to handle appointments through the personal assistant and possibly even teleconferencing. Missing appointments could be a thing of the past.

A health communications startup, MediSprout, partnered with Amazon to create a new platform for scheduling appointments. Additionally, Alexa was configured to work with the videoconferencing platform V2MD.

The system works together to provide a doctor’s available appointment times to a patient who then must choose a time that works with them as well. Alexa then adds the appointment to the calendars of the patient and the doctor. It’s designed to save time and reduce the chance of patients not showing up to their appointments.

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Not only initial appointments, but this system is designed to make the process of follow-up appointments and refilling a prescription easy as well. It also gives patients an open forum for asking the doctor questions directly, without having to go through a receptionist and/or nurse.

It could go further than just creating appointments, refilling prescriptions, and answering questions. Since V2MD is a video teleconferencing platform and all, it’s been suggested that patients could even have a video call with their doctor and perhaps eliminate the need for an in-person appointment.

Additionally, V2MD works with a blood pressure monitor as well. Patients have already shared their blood pressure results with their doctors through the system, and control rates increased from 38.6 percent to 70 percent because the system allowed doctors to monitor changes and suggest treatment adjustments.

There are many, many ways this could help, both presently and in the future. For one, reports state that missed doctor’s appointments is a $150 billion issue. And with the process made much easier, patients will be less likely to miss those appointments. It will be on their schedule, and Alexa can remind them and allow them to change the appointment if a conflict arises.

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Anyone who has tried to go through the current system to get a prescription refilled understands that problem. If you go through the pharmacy, they sometimes need to contact your doctor first, and you have to wait around for that. It can frustratingly take a couple of days. If you call your doctor yourself, then you have to wait until the receptionist speaks with the doctor, often much later in the day. But with this Alexa system it could be done much more directly.

And, of course, videoconferencing with your doctor could help in so many ways. It could possibly cut down on the in-person appointments. If you have a strange rash that shows up, you could show the doctor from the convenience of your own home. And if you have something extremely contagious, you could again talk with the doctor from your own home and avoid spreading germs throughout the doctor’s office, infecting even more people.

This system could work well in so many different ways that it makes you question why it hasn’t been done as of yet. It would be beneficial for the doctor’s office staff, the doctor, and especially the patients.

Is this what will become of doctor appointments in the future? Is this where we’re headed with technology? Would videoconferencing be acceptable to you, or would you still prefer to always meet with your doctor face to face? Tell us what you think of this new Alexa integration in the comments section below.

4 comments

  1. As a concept, this technology sounds great. In practice, it has more holes than a chain link fence.

    How will privacy and security of this process be guaranteed??? A day doesn’t go by without another massive data breach being announced.
    Will this process be HIPAA compliant?

    To take advantage of this technology, I would have to buy the app, buy a high resolution camera and make sure my doctor(s) have the same app. BTW – How many competing apps will there be?

    “Alexa system it could be done much more directly.”
    Whether it is the receptionist or Alexa or the pharmacy that speaks to the doctor, they still have to wait for the doctor to find the time. Unless Alexa/Amazon will short circuit this process and authorized the refill.

    “If you have a strange rash that shows up”
    Unless properly viewed, one rash looks pretty much like any other.

    “if you have something extremely contagious”
    How would you know that you are contagious until tests have been run? A doctor cannot determine from a video if you are contagious.

    “Is this what will become of doctor appointments in the future?”
    Unfortunately.

    “Is this where we’re headed with technology?”
    Unfortunately.

    “Would videoconferencing be acceptable to you”
    Definitely not. This would be another chink in our privacy. The thought of Amazon, Google, Microsoft and any other company getting its paws on my medical records scares the crap out of me. Of course, I don’t know if they already don’t have those records.

    Another reason videoconferencing is unacceptable is that it can be used only to diagnose a very small number of very obvious problems. The vast majority of medical problems still require a visit to a health care provider. For example, will a doctor be able to diagnose cancer and its extent through videoconferencing? Or cardiac problems and their extent? Is painful and low volume urination, blood in the urine, lack of appetite and general malaise a sign of a simple urinary infection, kidney failure or prostate cancer? The answer can only be provided only after a face to face with a doctor.

    • You are wrong about being able to tell if someone is contagious and needing to see a rash in person. As a person who is a cancer survivor, a bone marrow transplant recipient, who has Barrett’s Esophagus, and who is being tested to see if she has A-Fib, I have been in my share of doctor’s offices and had my share of appointments. Bone marrow transplant patients lose all their natural and earned immunities. I needed to get all my childhood shots again even, and some I haven’t been allowed to get yet as they are “live shots,” such as the MMR shot. For four months I could not venture out of the home other than doctor’s appointments, and even then I had to wear a mask. Eventually I could go out without a mask but still had to be extremely careful. It would have behooved me and all others in a similar situation if people who are contagious could stay home and do videoconferencing. As for not being able to see contageious diseases or rashes, that’s wrong. When I was still immunosuppressed, I had a terrible rash. As a transplant recipient I needed to go into the cancer care center to be seen. They took one look from across the room and said, “You have shingles.” That, of course, is highly contagious. By being among other immunosuppressed people I endangered them. So in a videoconferencing, yes, they could have seen my rash and could have determined I had shingles. Was a blood draw needed to confirm? Yes. But after they knew I most probably had that, I could have gone to any clinic without so many immunosuppressed people or at a time with no one else in the office.

      • Been there, done that, have the scars.

        I think we are looking at this from two different perspectives. No one could tell that Typhoid Mary was contagious until she became symptomatic. Patient 0 in the AIDS epidemic was contagious long before he became symptomatic. Bottom line -prior to onset of visible symptoms, contagious and infectious diseases can only be verified by lab tests which requires a face to face with some member of the medical profession.

        PS – I’m sorry to hear about your medical problems. From your picture, you look very healthy.

        • Thanks, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve been there done that as well.

          Looking at it from different perspectives, perhaps. I will agree that you can’t always tell a rash or a contagious disease from videoconferencing, but you “could” in some circumstances. And for those reasons it would be very helpful. Perhaps as a step that could prevent future steps. Maybe people could conference the doctor if something very contagiou is suspected, only for them to say, I need to see you in person, or maybe they would possibly say, stay away, it looks like you have XYZ. Let’s put you on these antibiotics for now. If it doesn’t clear up in 72 hours, come in for an appointment.

          While it’s for sure not a be-all end-all, perhaps it could be an additional option that could open things up more. The world of contagious diseases is so wide open. Why not do what we can to try to contain that, even if it’s now 100% foolproof?

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