May 17, 2020

Cigna becomes the first healthcare company to simplify health benefits information

healthcare services
Technology
USA
healthcare services
Catherine Sturman
2 min
Amazon Alexa (Google reuse image)
Global health company Cigna has now launched its voice control technology “Answers by Cigna” for Amazon Alexa.

The technology will aim to answer ov...

Global health company Cigna has now launched its voice control technology “Answers by Cigna” for Amazon Alexa.

The technology will aim to answer over 150 frequently asked questions, and work to simplify its answers surrounding health benefits and healthcare plans into easily digestible pieces of information.

“Voice control offers an exciting and innovative way for Cigna to educate and engage people about health care in a way that is convenient for them,” explained Rowena Track, Vice President of Digital Marketing at Cigna.

“The applications for voice control are expanding every day and we see great potential as we continue to simplify and personalise our customers’ health care journeys. Our work with Amazon Alexa provides us with experience and expertise as we evolve our voice platform and introduce new personalised services throughout the year.”

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A survey undertaken in the US on health literacy in 2017 found that 20% of respondents did not understand the word “premium” and 66% did not understand the word “formulary.” This has seen US citizens become disadvantaged in understanding the benefits which they could receive throughout their health benefits and subsequent healthcare plans.

The use of voice assistants is gaining pace across the country, where many are using the technology to not only gain awareness of certain subjects or general questions, such as the weather, but as a source of company for those who live alone.

The launch of “Answers by Cigna,” follows on from the growing interest technology companies are having within the lucrative healthcare market, where new, personalised digital tools could enhance our everyday lives and give greater control across a user’s daily healthcare management.

It also comes straight after the launch of the Mayo Clinic’s decision to launch the Mayo Clinic First-Aid skill, accessible through Amazon’s Alexa technology.

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May 13, 2021

Birdie aims to reinvent elderly care with tech

homecare
elderlycare
digitalhealthcare
medicationscheduling
3 min
We take a look at homecare software startup Birdie, who are aiming to transform elderly care in the UK

British startup Birdie has announced it has raised £8.2 million to invest in innovation and scale up the business. 

The company's announcement is timely as it follows the criticism of the UK government over their lack of a plan for social care, despite acknowledging the sector is in crisis - around a quarter of the UK's home care providers are on the brink of bankruptcy due to a lack of funds and staffing. 

Birdie was born with a mission to  "radically improve the lives of millions of older adults", by using app-based solutions, IoT and machine learning to put preventative care at the forefront.  The company was founded by Max Parmentier,  after experiencing his own frustrations with the care system - his grandfather struggled with the impact of life in a care home, but lacked any other option. 

In 2017 Parmentier partnered with venture builder Kamet Ventures to  set up Birdie, in a bid to fix this problem. Since then, Birdie has partnered with almost 500 providers across the UK, and supports more than 20,000 older people every week. In the past 12 months alone the number of people Birdie supports has got six times greater. 

Birdie’s solution is an app to help care providers deliver more coordinated, personalised and preventative care, by giving them access to digital assessments, medication scheduling and planning tools. By using digital tools to take care of admin, staff have more time to spend with their care recipients. 

The new investment will be used to fund Birdie’s next phase of growth in the UK, as the company scales to meet the rapidly growing demand of the aging population. The company will also invest in product innovation, creating new features to address customer requests.

In addition, Birdie is piloting new care models, including partnering with the NHS to identify COVID-19 symptoms, building predictive pharmacy models with AI, and helping health authorities to detect early warning signs of patients’ health risks.

Internally, Birdie is committed to having a progressive company ethos. All salaries are transparent, and staff work asynchronously to maximise flexibility and equity. Staff members also volunteer in their local community during office hours, and the company offsets all its emissions.

These efforts have led to numerous awards, including having the best SME culture in the UK, an Honorable Mention in the Health category of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards, and innovation in care at the LangBuisson awards. 

“We believe the future of care for older people should be helping them to live at home for as long as possible through the delivery of personalised and preventative care" Parmentier said. 

"Birdie is already the partner of choice for caregivers up and down the UK, and this new funding will help us rapidly increase the number we partner with and what we can offer them - meaning more people benefiting from more affordable, quality care. We’re proud of our mission and the values we embody to pursue it.” 

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