has launched a new skill for Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service, to put the latest information about the COVID-19 pandemic just a question away for consumers.
Users with an Alexa-enabled device, such as Amazon Echo and Echo Dot, can enable the skill “Mayo Clinic Answers on COVID-19” to get information from Mayo Clinic experts on the pandemic and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and 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,” says Sandhya Pruthi, M.D., 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 “Mayo Clinic Answers on COVID-19,” 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 new Mayo Clinic COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool that helps users determine if they should seek testing. This tool also is available at MayoClinic.org. The voice skill cautions users that if they are having a health emergency, they should seek immediate medical assistance.
“Mayo Clinic Answers on COVID-19” 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?”
Alexa is one of many ways that Mayo Clinic is providing comprehensive information on the COVID-19 pandemic. Updated information also is at MayoClinic.org and Mayo Clinic News Network,and “Mayo Clinic Q&A” podcasts are available on podcast platforms, including Apple, Google, iHeart, Spotify, Stitcher and Tunein.
Dr. Pruthi recently served as co-editor of the first 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-centered voice strategy.
“For Mayo Clinic, voice technologies allow us to deliver information and care when, where and how people wish to access it,” says Dr. Pruthi. “Accurate, easily accessible information is key to fighting this pandemic, and voice technologies are another avenue to get information to the public.”