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From data sharing, fragmented and/or outdated technologies, alongside country-specific regulations, the industry is slowly being reshaped to become more patient centric, where technology could work to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 care homes are better than private, report finds
A new survey has found that 60% of people with parents in NHS care homes believe the quality of care has improved, compared to just 49% of respondents with parents in private care facilities.
The survey was conducted by Kepler Vision Technologies, an AI-driven company formed at the University of Amsterdam. It was carried out among UK adults with parents over the age of 75.
Respondents cited more capable care staff and better monitoring systems as being the main reasons for improvement.
However those who do not have parents in assisted living facilities had a different viewpoint - in this case only 35% of respondents believe that NHS facilities are improving, compared to 32% who believe it is only improving in the private sector.
Only 18% of people whose parents live with them or independently believe care home staff are able to look after residents to a good standard.
Kepler Vision say this difference in opinion is due to perceived budget cuts and financial pressures, with 67% of people commenting that a lack of funding has had a negative effect on care in both NHS and private care facilities.
Other key findings of the survey include:
* Out of those who say quality has declined in care homes, 69% say the NHS is dealing with budget cuts and increased financial pressure, while 65% also said that the private system is dealing with these pressures too
* 55% said that they or their parent have money saved specifically to pay for their future care
* 35% said the idea of their parent in a care home makes them feel frightened, although 32% say it makes them feel secure
* 52% are worried about their parent catching COVID
* 47% are worried about their parent being lonely
* 46% are concerned they could fall over alone
The announcement of this research follows the UK government's decision to delay presenting its social care budget till the autumn.
Commenting on the research, Dr Harro Stokman, CEO of Kepler Vision Technologies said: “While it is good to see that people recognise the importance of staff and face-to-face interaction in elderly care, the huge gap in opinion between those with parents in care and those without shows that there are unfair negative perceptions around the residential care space.
"More can and should be done by care homes to give people the confidence that their relatives will receive the very best care - by highlighting the excellent work of staff and how well they are able to monitor resident’s needs with easy-to-use technology.”