Teladoc telemedicine services roll out on Amazon Alexa

Patients in the US can now access some virtual medical services from Teladoc Health via Amazon Alexa, the telemedicine giant said on Monday.

A partnership with New York-based Purchase, Teladoc, is the latest example of Amazon adding healthcare services to its Alexa voice assistant, through which patients can get information about common medications, refill prescriptions and schedule visits to specific hospitals.

To access the new telemedicine service, the patient must say “Alexa, I want to speak to the doctor” to their Alexa device, which will connect them to the Teladoc call center. The Teladoc doctor will call the patient back through the Alexa device. The service is available for non-emergency general medical needs such as cold, flu, or allergy symptoms.

“Audio visits are by far the most popular and affordable way to visit Teladoc customers virtually,” Donna Boyer, Teladoc’s chief product officer, wrote in an email response to Modern Healthcare’s questions. “We wanted to bring this experience to all Alexa customers in the US as quickly as possible.”

Boyer said Teladoc hopes Alexa’s “hands-free” approach will make accessing the company’s services more convenient and accessible.

Boyer did not say how long he would wait to see a doctor, but said waiting times could be longer than usual due to the pandemic.

The service, available 24/7, will initially launch with audio-only capabilities, but Teladoc plans to add video visits soon, according to a press release.

The cost of visiting is $75, but with insurance it can be as little as $0.

“We’re excited to be working with Teladoc Health to offer our customers an easy, hands-free way to connect with a doctor,” said Debra Hrapati, Vice President and COO of Amazon Alexa, in a press release. “We hope this experience will help clients find the convenient care they want from the comfort of their own home.”

About a third of Americans aged 12 and over own smart speakers, according to a study. report which Edison Research, along with audio technology and advertising firm Triton Digital, released last year. Almost a quarter – 24% – of smart speaker owners have an Amazon Alexa device, followed by 13% of Google Home device owners.

In addition to communicating directly with consumers, smart speaker developers are partnering with hospitals and health insurance plans.

Late last year, Amazon launched a program with apps for patients to use while they’re in the hospital as part of its Alexa Smart Properties division, which sells Alexa devices to property owners. In 2020 Google united with hospitals to deploy Google Nest devices to monitor critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Teladoc did not disclose financial details of the deal with Amazon. The company is not discussing the terms of its business deals, Boyer said.

Teladoc, which had $2 billion in revenue in 2021, is also partnering with Microsoft to move its telemedicine services to the tech giant’s Teams business communications platform for hospitals. Since 2020, Amwell, one of Teladoc’s competitors, has been working with Google on cloud services and the development of artificial intelligence capabilities.

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