October 26, 2018 – Digital Assistant


Anchor lead: Can you trust medical information from a digital assistant? Elizabeth Tracey reports 

Can you trust medical information you obtain from a digital assistant? No, a recent report concludes. Seth Martin, a cardiologist and developer of health care apps at Johns Hopkins, describes the study.

Martin: We’re really wondering how technology can be more seamlessly integrated into the human experience and into medical care. But needs to be tested for safety. They tested Siri, Alexa and the Google assistant and it certainly raises some alarms. :16

Study participants asked their digital assistant for medical advice, such as whether drugs could be safely taken together.

Martin: We don’t know exactly what would have come of this but it certainly seems like the users were being led astray and they reported that 29% of the actions could have resulted in some degree of harm and 6% could have resulted in death, so that’s pretty scary.  :16

Martin concludes that medical advice needs to come from an expert source. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.