The hope is that offering advice through Amazon’s Alexa will help to reduce pressure on the NHS and increase access to advice for those unable to use existing services. Although this development will benefit patients, it could be bad news for the private medical insurance (PMI) market.
This development is seen as an opportunity to ease the pressure on the NHS and GPs by providing patients with information for common illnesses, removing the need for appointments where possible. Alexa will use an algorithm that utilises information from the NHS’ website, allowing for the patient to have medical and health-related questions answered by a trustworthy source.
The move could be a concern for insurers in the PMI market. According to GlobalData’s 2018 UK Insurance Consumer Survey, 13.8% of policyholders had concerns over NHS’ waiting times/service, making this the most common reason for purchasing PMI. It should be highlighted that the use of Alexa will not be for complex medical problems; instead, the device will focus on providing information for patients suffering with more minor ailments. This will undoubtedly save time and resources for those in the NHS, allowing for a greater focus on the provision of services which are currently underperforming.
However, findings from the survey also indicate that the other purchasing triggers will remain unaffected by the partnership, as they are unlikely to be impacted by the use of smart speakers. Almost one in 10 policyholders highlighted having a child or concerns about their health as the key reason for purchasing a PMI policy. Providers in this space should look towards targeting this customer segment in order to mitigate any adverse impacts that the partnership between Amazon and the NHS may have.