Patients in the U.S. are now able to access some virtual healthcare services from Teladoc Health through Amazon's Alexa, the telehealth giant said Monday.
The partnership with Purchase, New York-based Teladoc is the latest example of Amazon adding health services to its Alexa voice assistant, through which patients can acquire information about common medications, refill prescriptions and schedule visits with certain hospitals.
To access the new telehealth service, a patient would say, "Alexa, I want to talk to a doctor," to their Alexa device, which will connect them with Teladoc's call center. A Teladoc physician will return the patient's call through the Alexa device. The service is available for non-emergency general medical needs, such as symptoms of cold, flu or allergies.
"Audio visits are, by far, the most popular and accessible way Teladoc customers do virtual visits today," wrote Donna Boyer, chief product officer at Teladoc, in an email response to questions from Modern Healthcare. "We wanted to bring this experience to all Alexa customers in the U.S. as quickly as possible."
Teladoc hopes the "hands-free" nature of Alexa will make accessing services from the company more convenient and accessible, according to Boyer.
Boyer did not share how long the estimated wait to be connected with a doctor would be, but said there may be longer than usual wait times 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 news release.
The cost per visit is $75, but could be as low as $0 with insurance.
"We're excited to work with Teladoc Health to offer our customers an easy, hands-free way to connect with a doctor," said Debra Chrapaty, vice president and chief operating officer at Amazon Alexa, in a news release. "We hope this experience will help customers find the convenient help they want from the comfort of their own home."
Roughly one-third of Americans aged 12 and older own a smart speaker, according to a report that market research company Edison Research, along with audio tech and advertising firm Triton Digital, released last year. Nearly one-quarter—24%—of smart speaker owners have an Amazon Alexa device, followed by 13% who own a Google Home device.
Late last year, Amazon launched a program with applications that patients would use during a hospital stay, as part of Alexa Smart Properties, a division that sells Alexa devices to property owners. In 2020, Google teamed up with hospitals to deploy Google Nest devices to monitor critically ill patients with COVID-19.
Teladoc did not disclose financial details of the arrangement with Amazon. The company doesn't discuss terms of its business deals, according to Boyer.
Teladoc, which brought in $2 billion in revenue in 2021, also has a partnership with Microsoft, which involves bringing its telehealth services into the tech giant's Teams business communications platform for hospitals. Since 2020, Amwell, one of Teladoc's competitors, has worked with Google for cloud services—and to develop artificial-intelligence capabilities.