A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

Category Archives: Healthcare Use

July 31, 2019

How Voice Helps Older Adults Battle Social Isolation

I love Dave Kemp’s ‘FuturEar” blog. Here’s an excerpt from something he just posted:

The slide pictured above from the session illustrates why I see so much potential for voice technology, specifically for older adults. It’s becoming increasingly apparent through numerous research studies that loneliness and social isolation are severely detrimental to us as individuals, as well as to the broader economy.

The industry that I come from, the world of hearing aids and hearing loss, understands these co-morbidities all too well, as hearing loss is often correlated to social isolation. If your hearing is so diminished that you can no longer engage in social situations, you’re more likely to become withdrawn and become social isolated/lonely.

This is ultimately why I think we’ll see voice assistants become integrated into this new generation of hearing aids. It kills two birds with one stone, as it augments one’s physical sound environment by providing amplification and the ability to hear more clearly, as well as serve as an access point to a digital assistant that can be used to communicate with one’s technology. One of the best solutions on the horizon for helping to circumvent the rising demand for caregivers might be “digital caregivers” in the form of Alexa/Google housed in hearing aids or other hearable devices.

June 10, 2019

Your Robot Doctor

This isn’t even ‘new’ news. A few years back (as noted in this article – and a video), a robot – from China’s iFlytek – took China’s national medical licensing examination and passed. Not only did the robot pass the exam, it actually got a score of 456 points – which was 96 points above the passing threshold. This makes sense given that healthcare is one of the fields that has been taking AI seriously for some time. Robots actually aren’t meant to replace human doctors. They’re meant to just be assistants to help human doctors improve their efficiency.

April 10, 2019

Helping Doctors Record Their Notes

As noted in this Wired article – entitled “Does Your Doctor Need a Voice Assistant?” – voice assistants can help doctors dramatically cut down the amount of time they spend writing notes about their appointments. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s a problem that started when doctors switched from handwritten records to electronic ones. Health care organizations have tried more manual fixes—human scribes either in the exam room or outsourced to Asia and dictation tools that can only convert text verbatim. But these new assistants—you’ll meet Suki in a sec—go one step further. Equipped with advanced artificial intelligence and natural language processing algorithms, all a doc has to do is ask them to listen. From there they’ll parse the conversation, structure it into medical and billing lingo, and insert it cleanly into an EHR.

Since this is a big market, there are a number of providers specifically targeting this market. Some of the companies doing that are: Sopris Health, Suki, Luminant Software and this list of more companies

April 8, 2019

“Wellness” Skills to Help Your Health & Fitness

As the “wellness” industry grows along with an aging “Baby Boomer” population, the popularity of mobile apps to assist those looking for mindfulness also grows. A good example is the “Headspace” app – which includes bite-sized guided meditations and hundreds of themed sessions for stress, anxiety, sleep, etc.

It’s only natural that a bevy of skills is also available for those that seek wellness. Here are ten examples:

1. Sleep and Relaxation Sounds – With over 11,000 reviews – most of them five-star – this one is popular. You can pick from a list of 125 sounds and then let it loop until you say stop – or until a specific length of time that you tell it in advance. “Alexa open Sleep Sounds.”

2. Healing Sounds – Popular skill that plays relaxing sounds. You can select your sound or just listen to the one offered. In-skill purchasing available to buy additional sounds. “Alexa open Healing Sounds.”

3. Relaxing Sounds: Indian Flute – Great musical accompaniment for meditation, yoga, healing and complete relaxation. Of course, if you know the name of a musician who plays the Indian flute, you can just play their music directly. But if you don’t, this skill is for you. “Alexa, Open Indian Flute.”

4. 1-Minute Mindfulness: Peace One Minute at a Time – Provides a simple, one-minute break with sounds. You can extend the minute if you want. “Alexa, Ask Mindfulness for a minute meditation.”

5. The Daily Task – This is a skill to helps you to change step-by-step. I like the idea of this one – but it uses a synthetic voice. “Alexa, open The Daily Task.”

6. Guided Meditation: Meditation of the Day for Calm – Daily meditations between 3-8 minutes long, with a total of 80 or so in total. Tells you upfront how long a particular meditation will be. Uses a human voice. “Alexa, open Guided Meditation.”

7. Headspace – You need a Headspace account to access this skill. Provides new daily meditations and all the other type of stuff like the app mentioned above. “Alexa, open Headspace.”

8. Fitbit – You need a Fitbit account to access this skill. Helps you keep track of how you’re meeting your fitness goals – whether it be number of steps walked, number of hours slept, etc. “Alexa, ask Fitbit how I’m doing today.”

9. Swiss Workouts – Fitness Personal Trainer – This is a “Flash Briefing” so I’m cheating a little – but it caught my eye because it sounded so unique. It’s fitness tips from those that live in the Alps.

10. Happy Days – Random positive quotes. They’re short – so the synthetic voice might be palatable for some. “Alexa, open Happy Days.”

My pet peeve is that this is one of those areas that a synthetic voice is not a good match. It’s hard to get relaxed when listening to a Polly voice. So the best of these skills uses sounds & music – or human voices…