Oct 27, 2020

New AI-driven hearing aid personalises sound for wearers

AI
hearing aid
Machine Learning
Algorithms
Leila Hawkins
2 min
New AI-driven hearing aid personalises sound for wearers
The Widex hearing aid promises more natural sound thanks to its machine learning algorithms...

A new hearing aid has launched that uses artificial intelligence to optimise sound in real time. 

Widex SoundSense Learn processes inputs from connected hearing aids throughout the world and shares the data with a cloud-based AI system. The system can then continuously learn how to optimise hearing aid settings in different situations for specific wearers. The aim is to provide better, more natural and personalised sound for hearing aid users

The hearing aid gives users A-B comparisons to choose from, so it can begin understanding how the wearer prefers sound in different environments. It manages low, mid, and high frequencies that which can each be set to 13 different levels, resulting in more than 2,000 possible settings. 

Widex say that to test each setting would require doing more than 2 million tests, but by using machine learning algorithms it only needs a dozen comparisons to calculate the optimal settings for each person. The algorithms also track the user’s individual adjustments, such as how often they change the volume and which sound presets they most regularly use.

The wearer can store the settings as programs on their smartphone, and activate them throughout the day, such as when they’re at work, at the supermarket, or in their kitchen. These programs can also be stored, anonymised, in the cloud, to help enhance the hearing experience of other users.

“Our studies show that hearing aid users have a significant preference for the personalised settings achieved through artificial intelligence and machine learning, and that 80 percent would recommend the function to others” Widex Head of Audiology Lise Henningsen said. 

“By applying artificial intelligence, a hearing solution learns how users prefer various listening environments and gives them greater control over their hearing experience" she added. 

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Jul 25, 2021

Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare

Data
healthcare
CloudComputing
Technology
 Joe Gaska
4 min
Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare
 Joe Gaska, CEO of GRAX, tells us how healthcare providers can become cloud-based and data-driven organisations

As healthcare continues to recognise the value of data and digital transformation, many organisations are relying on the cloud to make their future-forward and data-centric thinking a reality. In fact, the global healthcare cloud computing market was valued at approximately $18 billion and is expected to generate around $61 billion USD by 2025. 

At the forefront of these changes is the rapid adoption of cloud-based, or software-as-a-service (SaaS), applications. These apps can be used to handle patient interactions, track prescriptions, care, billing and more, and the insights derived from this important data can vastly improve operations, procurement and courses of treatment. However, before healthcare organisations can begin to dream about a true data-driven future, they have to deal with a data-driven dilemma: compliance. 

Meeting regulation requirements

It’s no secret that healthcare is a highly regulated industry when it comes to data and privacy – and rightfully so. Patient records contain extremely sensitive data that, if changed or erased, could cost someone their life. This is why healthcare systems rely on legacy technologies, like Cerner and Epic EHRs, to manage patient information – the industry knows the vendors put an emphasis on making them as secure as possible.

Yet when SaaS applications are introduced and data starts being moved into them, compliance gets complicated. For example, every time a new application is introduced into an organisation, that organisation must have the vendor complete a BAA (Business Associate Agreement). This agreement essentially puts the responsibility for the safety of patients’ information — maintaining appropriate safeguards and complying with regulations — on the vendor.

However, even with these agreements in place, healthcare systems still are at risk of failing to meet compliance requirements. To comply with HIPAA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11 and other regulations that stipulate the need to exercise best practices to keep electronic patient data safe, healthcare organisations must maintain comprehensive audit trails – something that gets increasingly difficult when data sits in an application that resides in the vendor’s infrastructure.

Additionally, data often does not stay in the applications – instead healthcare users download, save and copy it into other business intelligence tools, creating data sprawl across the organisation and exposing patient privacy to greater risk. 

With so many of these tools that are meant to spur growth and more effective care creating compliance challenges, it begs the question: how can healthcare organisations take advantage of the data they have without risking non-compliance?

Data ownership

Yes, healthcare organisations can adhere to regulations while also getting valuable insights from the wealth of data they have available. However, to help do this, organisations must own their data. This means data must be backed up and stored in an environment that they have control over, rather than in the SaaS vendors’ applications.

Backing up historical SaaS application data directly from an app into an organisation’s own secure cloud infrastructure, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, makes it easier, and less costly, to maintain a digital chain of custody – or a trail of the different touchpoints of data. This not only increases the visibility and auditability of that data, but organisations can then set appropriate controls around who can access the data.

Likewise, having data from these apps located in one central, easily accessible location can decrease the number of copies floating around an organisation, reducing the surface area of exposure while also making it easier for organisations to securely pull data into business intelligence tools. 

When healthcare providers have unfettered access to all their historical data, the possibilities for growth and insights are endless. For example, having ownership and ready access to authorised data can help organisations further implement and support outcome-based care. Insights enabled by this data will help inform diagnoses, prescriptions, treatment plans and more, which benefits not only the patient, but the healthcare ecosystem as a whole. 

To keep optimising and improving care, healthcare systems must take advantage of new tools like SaaS applications. By backing up and owning their historical SaaS application data, they can do so while minimising the risk to patient privacy or compliance requirements. Having this ownership and access can propel healthcare organisations to be more data-driven – creating better outcomes for everyone. 

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