You’ve probably heard the term “digital health” but what does it actually mean, and what is including within it? Essentially, digital health is a field that marks the convergence of the digital revolution with new health technologies, healthcare, the genomic revolution and more. It is transforming the field of medicine in terms of the way we diagnose and treat different illnesses. It is empowering individuals to better understand and care for their own health and lives in a multiplicity of ways including wearables, apps, the IoT and more. In 2015 a total of $4.5B was invested in digital health as the industry expanded massively across the globe. There were also 187 different M&A deals in this field in 2015 alone.
Within this rapidly growing field, there has been an interesting emergence of voice-based digital health solutions. In some instances, smart sensors and machine learning are coming together to help diagnose voice disorders. The use of non-invasive wearable technology can actually identify vocal polyps (a painful condition that often affects singers). And this is just an initial example of the application of machine learning and wearables. In the future, the same technologies could potentially help to diagnose a wide range of conditions.
But as well as voice helping to do the obvious in identifying specific voice disorders, the combination of voice and technology may also have wider applications in the field of healthcare. Cutting edge technologies are already able to analyze the emotions of speech, opening up the possibility of using voice-driven analytics as a new big data tool to help determine the likelihood of elections or the overall mood of a city or nation. But beyond this, there is evidence that simply analyzing your voice in the correct way can reveal stress, depression and other health issues.
While there is no miracle cure to “hearing” health issues in your voice, keeping track of the way you speak and how your daily speech compares to a baseline could identify multiple health conditions and apparently even tell you if you are suffering from heart disease. This is the kind of technology that could easily be adapted to handheld devices or incorporated into voice-activated personal assistants such as Siri.
And as well as empowering patients with apps and easy to use devices, voice-based digital healthcare is also helping clinicians reach a greater degree of accuracy and better care for their patients. Easy to use software can help clinicians to streamline clinical language understanding and clinical speech recognition. There are now a plethora of voice-based productivity apps that can help with coordination, patient care, diagnostics and more.
It looks like voice will play a critical role in the future of digital health care. With voice analytics helping diagnose disorders and voice-activated software helping health providers improve the way they work, the future looks to be increasingly wireless and voice-based. And in addition, the move towards voice and digital means the future of big data in the voice arena is set to be enormous. All in all, voice has arrived and is changing the way we care for our minds and our bodies.
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