ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mayo Clinic is now broadening access to its trusted health advice on the COVID-19 pandemic with the release of the Mayo Clinic Answers on COVID-19 voice skill for Alexa in Canada.
“We value our global community and the many patients who travel to Mayo Clinic from Canada and wanted to make this skill available to them to deliver the latest information on symptoms, prevention and coping in a hands-free way,” says Sandhya Pruthi, M.D., a Mayo Clinic physician and medical director for Mayo’s Health Education and Content Services. Dr. Pruthi was raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba and received her M.D. from the University of Manitoba.
Recognizing that the public needs easy access to trusted, evidence-based answers to common health questions during a pandemic, Mayo Clinic took quick action to make its expert advice available on Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service. The Mayo Clinic Answers on COVID-19 voice skill became available for Alexa customers in the U.S. in April. Alexa skills are voice-activated applications that add capabilities to Alexa-enabled devices, such as Amazon Echo, and mobile devices.
“One of the advantages of our COVID-19 voice skill is that we are able to quickly update the content to answer the most pressing questions as we move through the various stages of this pandemic,” says Dr. Pruthi. “The questions on people’s minds today are very different than they were a month ago.”
For example, users can now ask questions about how to end isolation, prepare for a telemedicine visit or safely start traveling again. They can also find out about the latest in COVID-19 vaccine research, testing and treatments.
“We feel voice technology is particularly useful at this time when many may be suffering from information overload about the pandemic. Spending hours online searching for answers can be anxiety-provoking,” says Dr. Pruthi. “But with Mayo Clinic Answers on COVID-19, users can get just the information they’re looking for without other distractions.”
To use the skill, just ask Alexa to “Open Mayo Clinic Answers on COVID-19” on any Alexa-enabled device, such as Amazon Echo and Echo Dot. Then ask your coronavirus questions, like “How can I help my kids cope with pandemic stress?” or “What are the symptoms of coronavirus?”
The Mayo Clinic Answers on COVID-19 skill 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.
Making the voice skill available in Canada is also part of Mayo Clinic’s international efforts to openly share its expertise and point of view on the COVID-19 pandemic with policy makers, global health leaders and the public, all in a way that aligns with its core mission of putting the needs of the patient first.
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