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Need a doctor? Just talk to Alexa and its new HealthTap integration

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Greg Mombert/Digital Trends
Why it matters to you

If you're feeling a cold coming on, you might not want to leave the house to talk to a doctor. Luckily, Alexa has you covered -- as usual.

Who needs a doctor when you have Alexa? Aside from telling you the weather, playing your favorite podcasts, ordering you an Uber, and just generally being your all-around favorite virtual assistant, Alexa has now added another skill to your arsenal: Giving medical advice. This week, HealthTap introduced a new integration with the Amazon service, which allows users to simply say, “Alexa, talk to Dr. AI,” in order to simulate an in-person doctor visit.

While HealthTap and Alexa certainly don’t seek to replace your actual appointments, the new feature certainly can help concerned users garner insights into potential health problems — or, if nothing else, allow you to explore the vast database of digital medical knowledge housed by HealthTap and its network of more than 107,000 doctors. The new integration boasts an AI doctor “trained in bedside manner to ask intelligible, dynamically generated questions in natural language via an intuitive conversational user interface.” And if at the end of your chat you determine that you do indeed need to see a real doctor, Alexa can help you with that, too, by scheduling an in-person visit with your health care provider.

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“We’d been doing text and video before, then expanded into voice and that’s exciting in health care because we serve many populations that are older, disabled, or frail,” said Ron Gutman, founder and CEO of HealthTap, in an interview with Fortune. “Voice is cool, but more important, it’s fills a real need of people who have difficulty using their hands or whose eyesight is not that great,” Gutman added.

While HealthTap was previously available for iPhone and Android, the company hopes that adding Alexa to the mix will make it more user-friendly still, particularly for the elderly and disabled who may have limited mobility and use of their hands. So if you need to talk to a doctor, just talk to Alexa. She’s the next best thing.