HIPAA Compliant Voice Tech in Healthcare

February 16, 2022
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TL; DR: Voice streamlines healthcare workflows and improves the patient experience. Picovoice integration into medical equipment can create reliable, offline, and contactless alternatives to enhance usability and prevent the spread of healthcare-associated infection. Picovoice’s HIPAA-compliant technology can be customized to accelerate medical transcription, and reduce errors by handling industry-specific terminology. New applications in voice-biomarkers and early diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases from abnormalities in speech patterns could benefit from Picovoice’s highly adaptable solutions.

The rise of COVID-19 has underscored the need for stronger infrastructure in the healthcare system. With the rush to allocate beds, increase medical staff, and retrieve new equipment, healthcare operations can benefit from the continuous development of on-hand technologies. These advancements can increase preparation in times of crisis and raise the quality of care. Communication between hospital workers, patients, and caregivers is a significant factor in driving recovery rates and streamlining healthcare tasks. [1] Voice-enabled technologies provide flexibility for healthcare workers and patients, enhancing interaction while decreasing the likeliness of infection. In the following, we explore the challenges in healthcare and how voice technologies could help. We grouped each issue and solution into the three categories of Medical Equipment, Physician Facing, and Patient Facing to gain a holistic view and to inform our approach.

Voice-Activated Medical Equipments

Picovoice enables completely hands-free and contactless control of medical equipment and parameters of the target environment, such as lighting and temperature. Decreasing contact is one of the essential ways to curb the chance of infection since the majority of the spread is through indirect and direct contact. Whether it’s in the ICU, operating room, or patient room. Voice interfaces powered by Picovoice can be fully customized and continuously developed with its web platform for each type of equipment or experience. Since wireless coverage across different areas in hospitals can be highly variable, cloud-based voice interfaces intrinsically cannot deliver robust functionality. By running fully on-device—without requiring an Internet connection—Picovoice solutions deliver maximum reliability and interaction speed. Picovoice offers consistent performance and resilience in the presence of varying acoustics of a medical environment, such as excessive reverberation or noise generated by ventilators, suction devices, or other running equipment. As a lightweight technology, Picovoice uses minimal compute and storage resources, and therefore can run on battery-operated and resource-constrained devices, such as wearables or pagers.

Examples: Voice-activated lighting, paging, and data retrieval, Voice control of medical equipment settings in ORs, Voice-directed image scans and visualization

Physician Facing Voice Solutions:

Picovoice’s Cheetah and Leopard on-device large vocabulary speech-to-text solution is optimized for voice typing and note-taking applications. It can be customized to understand medical specialty terminologies that are not well recognized by generic speech recognition. Since it runs offline with no information transmitted outside the device, it is completely private, secure, and HIPAA-compliant. To maximize workflow productivity, Picovoice’s Rhino natural language understanding can be added at touchpoints between healthcare professionals and patients. For instance, checking in, affirming insurance, and providing assistance for individuals are examples of tasks that could be streamlined with voice, leaving physicians and nurses more time to conduct higher-priority operations. Examples: Physician note-taking & transcription, Detecting and responding to medical terminology, Workflow automation, such as patient check-in services

Patient Facing Voice Products:

Inpatient and at-home care constitute a major part of patient care; integrated voice systems can handle routine tasks and immensely boost healthcare efficiency and quality of care. For example, for patients with limited movement, voice control—to open the blinds, adjust the bed position, control the television, or page a nurse—could greatly enhance the inpatient experience. Voice assistants that patients can bring back home could help them keep track of medications while keeping physicians, pharmacists, and immediate family members in the loop.

Examples: Inpatient and at-home care and monitoring, Medication tracking and reminders, Bedside voice assistants for infotainment control and nursing requests

COVID-19 has increased the adoption of technology in healthcare. In 2021, US-based digital health startups raised $30B doubling $14.9B in 2020. [2] Amazon has just announced the wider availability of Amazon Care. [3] There is still a big opportunity to address staff- and record-reliant hospital operations, maintain a sterilized environment and reduce contact to prevent infections. Picovoice’s voice solutions can respond to these needs with minimal changes to state-of-the-art healthcare technology systems without sacrificing privacy or HIPAA compliance. Reliable, connectionless, and hardware-independent, Picovoice offers speech and language understanding within medical context and terminology to assist both physicians and patients.

Contact us to learn how Picovoice helps organizations in the healthcare industry