Amazon Echo Plays Doctor Offering Medical Advice With KidsMD Children’s Hospital App

Pretty soon it might be easier and quicker to list the things Amazon's Echo speaker can't do rather than what it can. The list of tricks runs deep, from firing up Spotify to summoning an Uber driver. Heck, you can have Echo order a pizza if you're craving Domino's. If all that weren't enough, a new app created by the Innovation & Digital Health Acclerator (IDHA) team at Boston Children's Hospital gives Echo the ability to answer questions about your child's health.

Called "KidsMD," the new app isn't just for Echo, but for any device powered by Amazon's Alexa digital assistant, including Amazon's Echo Dot and Tap speakers, and Fire TV. Devices enabled with Alexa can help parents decide if little Johnny's cough and fever warrant a call to the doctor. By tapping into KidsMD, Alexa can inform parents of the correct dosage for over-the-counter drugs based on age and weight.

Amazon Echo

This is an expansion of Alexa's skill set that parents are sure to appreciate, though Amazon and apps like KidsMD have to be careful in how far they go. A self-diagnosis gone wrong because of a mobile app begs the question of liability.

"Families will increasingly look to perform front-line health care triage with diagnostic mobile apps and devices and decision support applications," says Nitin Gujral, IDHA's software development manager. "Connected home devices like Amazon's Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV and Amazon Tap will begin to be used for intuitive health care delivery."

Over time, Boston Children's Hospital wants to enable Alexa to provide parents with broader health care information through KidsMD. Right now it's focusing on symptoms that are commonly seen by parents, such as a sore throat, diarrhea, coughing, and so forth.