Amazon secures a patent to further utilise Alexa to support patients
Amazon’s decision to acquire pharmaceutical start-up PillPack came as no surprise to many, but dramatically led pharmaceutical companies to plunge in the stock market in **. Known to transform traditional industries, healthcare will be Amazon’s next big challenge, yet the company will face a multitude of complex hurdles.
From data sharing, fragmented and/or outdated technologies, alongside country-specific regulations, the industry is slowly being reshaped to become more patient centric, where technology could work to reduce escalating healthcare costs and various barriers in communication.
The company’s new patent will work to support patients, where voice assistant. Alexa, will gain the ability to detect the health of a user and signs of illness. It will then be able to offer to help by purchasing medicine on their behalf.
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The patent, "Voice-based determination of physical and emotional characteristics of users" describes that a device similar to Amazon Echo would listen not solely for the words used, but the tone of voice of the user, which can indicate symptoms of fatigue, stress and symptoms of an illness such as a cold. This would enable the technology to offer support by purchasing medicines if approved by the user.
"A current physical and/or emotional condition of the user may facilitate the ability to provide highly targeted audio content, such as audio advertisements or promotions, to the user," the patent says. "In FIG. 1, the voice interaction device 110 may optionally determine a follow-up inquiry of 'would you like a recipe for chicken soup?' in response to the user's utterance regarding hunger."
Further down, after the user declines, Alexa asks "By the way, would you like to order cough drops with one-hour delivery?"
Additionally, adverts could be tailored to the user’s current mood. For example, sore throat products for those who have a cough or cold, or will suggest things to do if the technology detects certain emotions, such as boredom.
NHS opens 8 clinical trial sites to assess cancer treatment
The UK's National Health Service (NHS) is opening eight clinical trial sites to assess patients' responses to personalised cancer therapy.
The trials will analyse how patients diagnosed with advanced melanoma or non-small cell lung cancer respond to immunotherapy, to help predict their response to treatment. They will be hosted at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust facilities.
Immunotherapy helps the body's own immune system fight cancer, but while it has achieved good results for some cancer patients, it is not successful for everyone. Finding ways to predict which people will respond to the treatment is a major area of research.
OncoHost, an oncology startup, will provide advanced machine learning technology to develop personalised strategies aiming to improve the success rate of the cancer therapy. The trials will contribute to OncoHost’s ongoing PROPHETIC study, which uses the company’s host response profiling platform, PROphet®.
“Immunotherapy has achieved excellent results in certain situations for several cancers, allowing patients to achieve longer control of their cancer with maintained quality of life and longer survival,” said Dr David Farrugia, Consultant Medical Oncologist at NHS, and chief investigator of all eight NHS clinical trial sites.
“However, success with immunotherapy is not guaranteed in every patient, so this PROPHETIC study is seeking to identify changes in proteins circulating in the blood which may help doctors to choose the best treatment for each patient."
"I am excited that Gloucestershire Oncology Centre and its research department have this opportunity to contribute to this growing field of research and I am determined that our centre will make a leading national contribution in patient recruitment.”
Previous studies in the US and Israel have shown that PROphet® has high accuracy in predicting how patients with cancer will respond to various therapies.