Elise Whitaker, Director of Conversational Experiences, FCB Health New York
While technology has influenced every aspect of our lives in the past two years, no other industry has seen the colossal scalability of digital solutions as that of the healthcare industry. COVID has been a catalyst to drive healthcare to extend beyond clinical walls. What started as simply adding a digital front door to a health system website, or providing telehealth appointments to patients, has evolved into holistic integration of virtual care technology to manage disease anywhere – much of it DIY!
Throughout the week of CES 2022, DIY home healthcare was on prominent display to both control chronic conditions and disease – as well as proactively manage health and wellness. Individuals can now use medical solutions from both big tech companies and small tech startups to take blood glucose readings by the minute (Abbott), detect aFib using a scale (Withings), and manage hypertension through a connected blood pressure monitor (Omron Healthcare), all in an in-home setting. New parents can detect a baby’s breathing rate for sleep safety using AI computer vision (Cubo AI), while caregivers can monitor senior loved ones as they age in place through noninvasive home sensors (Caregiver Smart Solutions).
Technology has empowered medical device, healthcare, and life science brands to connect with, and support, every consumer – no matter where they are – both physically and within their healthcare journeys. While there were well over 75 new health and wellness products introduced, below are a few especially notable DIY home healthcare trends that caught my eye.
Contactless Blood Pressure Monitoring
Within the rise of virtual care, tech companies have taken advantage of in-device cameras to carve out a whole new army of health assessment tools. The Binah.ai video-based vital signs monitoring tool only requires a user to look at a device camera to quickly measure blood pressure from home. Touted as the first to do this, the digital tool does not require a blood pressure cuff, or any other Bluetooth device. Advanced AI and complex algorithms are used to process the light signal and return a reading without the need for a finger clip, arm cuff, or other hardware1. While commercially available, this is not yet approved by the FDA, yet holds much promise.
Combining the Power of AI and Advanced Visual Computing
Innovation from other industries has played a key part in the evolution of health tech in the past year. Perfect Corp, an augmented reality company, initially developed a “fun” app to allow users to try on makeup right from their phones. Now, brands like Neutrogena have tapped this company to create real-time skin analysis powered by AI deep-learning technology to create a skin diagnostic system to identify 14 different conditions through a consumer’s mobile device. The solution offers virtual consultations and recommends routine and lifestyle tips to improve your skin.
Behavioral Symptom Trackers
Our behaviors are important in overall long-term outcomes. Even small data points can give us direction into our medical care. Folia Health is a free resource that allows you to track your own observations around your health in 90 seconds each day. The app allows you to manage multiple conditions and collaborate with multiple caregivers at a time. While symptom tracker apps are not new, by gathering insights, this app is unique in that it builds graphs and tables to help you understand how your treatments are impacting your health. Data use at its best.
Engagement Through Voice Insight
Your voice can now be a health biomarker. It will become key in detecting neurological disease, mental health, heart disease, lung infections, and even predict mortality. Sonde Health has deployed a voice-powered, respiratory health product that detects and monitors for symptoms of COVID-19, asthma, COPD, and several other pulmonary conditions. It provides respiratory fitness health checks and tracking from 6 seconds of voice on a smartphone on symptoms including: coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and chest tightness. It only costs a few cents per health check when used daily and is available through an API or app.
How do these drive conversational experiences?
Both Folia Health and Sonde Health are utilizing the benefits of chat and voice experiences to collect data that then informs health decisions. It is my point of view that we will continue to see virtual assistants, including chatbots, voice bots, and conversational interfaces, playing a lead role in the future DIY healthcare journey. Conversational experiences can act as front-line modalities with the following:
Reaching them “where they are.” Voice and chat modalities allow for the DIY self-service, on-demand, 24/7 engagement and accessibility to key product information. Regardless of whether the user is standing at their desk, walking, or in the air, virtual assistants can be interacted with in a way that best serves the user.
Removing Friction: Virtual assistants are creating efficiencies for patients who may only be returning to care for the first time after deferring it during the COVID-19 pandemic, and/or in reaching populations of patients that may already have barriers or associated risk factors that make it challenging to connect in-clinic. Conversational experiences provide DIY environments for consumers to ask questions they might otherwise feel uncomfortable asking a physician, as well.
Accessibility: Voice assistants can be especially useful for consumers with mobility or visual impairments, allowing for access to information in a nonphysical modality. Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Google Mobile assistant allow for attainable DIY interactions and conversations for everyone.
Live Chat or Agent Escalation: Additional features within virtual assistants provide the support of a human, such as a nurse navigator or financial assistance representative, should a DIY interaction with a virtual assistant require it.
Scheduling: Real-time scheduling within virtual assistants allow consumers to easily and efficiently schedule a time to speak with a care coordinator when most suitable for them.
Call Center Augmentation: With a steady staffing decline in call centers in the past year, voice AI solutions can be used to respond to Tier-1 issues with a resolution rate of up to 90%. This can decrease the stress placed on current agent staff and allow them to provide full attention to urgent and dire calls.
By leveraging the array of digital technologies now available in the DIY healthcare ecosystem, there is the capacity for all of us to play a role as consumers in managing our own or our family’s healthcare journeys at home. There is an even greater potential for all of us, as industry leaders, to provide our clients with greater omnichannel solutions, consumer experiences, key data and insights, and innovation through virtual care technologies. Cheers to 2022 – a new year of DIY healthcare!
Watch to hear more of our insights from CES 2022.