WebMD’s new Alexa health skill should go to pharmacy school

WebMD just launched an Alexa skill that promises to answer health and medical questions. But it seems there’s a lot it doesn’t know.

The company’s press release offers a number of sample questions the assistant can potentially answer, such as:

  • “Alexa, ask WebMD to tell me about type 2 diabetes.”
  • “Alexa, ask WebMD to tell me about amoxicillin.”
  • “Alexa, ask WebMD what is an echocardiogram.”
  • “Alexa, ask WebMD what are the side effects of steroids.”

The user reviews on Amazon generally fault the skill for not being able understand drug names, however. This was consistent with my experience. I asked about a number of prescription and generic drugs (e.g., acetaminophen). It was unable to recognize most of them, even after repeated, slow attempts.

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