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Back to NewsBastion-Brand-Editor , 20/02/2017

Pulse Alert: Empathy in Digital Technology

‘Novel’ is no longer enough.    

In 2017, Healthcare’s ditching the gimmicks and embracing the power of digital technology to drive intimate human connections, patient-focussed solutions and accessible, personalised care.

From Artificial Intelligence to Emotional Intelligence.

From Apple’s Siri to Amazon’s Alexa, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere. For patients with limited mobility or access to clinical support, it’s not hard to see how, with a few intelligent tweaks, voice-enabled technology could be truly life-changing…

In 2016, tech start-up MindBin Technologies introduced ‘Booost’ – an AI assistant for patients suffering from mental health conditions. With its human voice and empathetic ear, Booost’s in-built cognitive abilities allow it to pick up on the nuances of a patient’s linguistic choices and idiosyncrasies and do what any emotionally intelligent app would: Form a personal relationship – or friendship -with its human, and reach out to them when life gets tough.

Like any good friend, Booost can tell if you’re having a bad day by the language you use, and the tone you use it in. Drawing from an in-built clinical data set, the app suggests and provides therapy games if you sound a little down, and, in more extreme cases, call an emergency contact if it detects suicidal behaviors.

Now imagine a world where Siri could help predict or diagnose schizophrenia. Soon, we won’t need to.

We’re Only Human.

The digital natives amongst us are (or at least, they were) on board with the wearable technology trend. But old habits die hard, and if the brightest young things can’t remember to strap on their Fitbits, what hope do the rest of us have?

While wearables remain a hugely valuable tool in patient self-management, digital technology will increasingly be embedded in objects that everyday people already wear, in the hope that they’ll actually wear them.

Smart contact lenses that monitor glucose levels through human tears are currently being explored by Brian Otis and Babak Parviz. At a top line level, the contacts analyse a diabetes patients’ blood glucose levels every second, transmitting the data to an associated app via a microscopic wireless antenna. Novartis Pharmaceuticals has agreed to licence the lenses if and when they become available. Discover more here.

In 2017, there’s no end to the way digital technology can be used to bring about change in our industry. But it’s the technology that brings empathy into the equation to deliver personalised solutions to real patient problems that’s leading the way. And we’re getting right behind it.

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