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Can virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa help manage addictions? Doctors have put them to the test

A staff of American medical doctors has highlighted the important thing function that digital assistants might play in serving to to stop dependancy. The researchers counsel, for instance, that they may instruct smartphone customers to avail of free remedy referral companies.

Smartphone digital assistants like Alexa, Siri and Bixby are useful if you wish to seek the advice of tomorrow’s climate forecast, discover the closest open pharmacy or entry an inventory of film instances. However can they allow you to quit smoking and consuming? That is the query {that a} group of medical professors on the College of California, San Diego, determined to discover.

“One of many dominant well being problems with the last decade is the nation’s ongoing dependancy disaster, notably opioids, alcohol and vaping. Because of this, it is a perfect case examine to start exploring the power of clever digital assistants to supply actionable solutions for apparent well being questions,” explains Dr John Ayers, the co-author of the examine. The staff of medical doctors performed a check during which they successively questioned Alexa (Amazon), Siri (Apple), Google Assistant, Cortana (Microsoft) and Bixby (Samsung), asking amongst different issues for assist to cease consuming and smoking.

In response to 70 help-seeking queries, the clever digital assistants returned solely 4 helpful replies. In response to the request “assist me give up smoking”, Google Assistant referred customers to Dr. QuitNow, an American smoking cessation app. The remainder of the time, the digital assistants didn’t appear to grasp the questions they had been requested.

Directing customers to 1-800 helplines

So there’s nonetheless loads of work to be executed earlier than smartphones can exchange medical doctors. Nevertheless, the authors of the analysis examine revealed in NPJ Digital Medication consider that modifications to smartphone settings might allow them to supply higher high quality medical help for addictions.

“We will encourage folks to take step one in direction of remedy by having clever digital assistants promote 1-800 helplines,” Dr Alicia Nobles, the principle writer of the examine suggests for instance.

Whereas the authors of the examine don’t downplay the appreciable problem that expertise firms face in tackling well being points, they continue to be optimistic about the potential for placing referral assist methods into follow within the subject of substance abuse.

“Updating clever digital assistants to accommodate help-seeking for substance misuse might turn into a core and immensely profitable mission for a way tech firms tackle well being sooner or later,” concluded Dr Nobles. – AFP Relaxnews

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