Suki Goes to Boston

August 13, 2019 Chris Brubaker

We just got back from the Voice of Healthcare Summit in Boston held at Harvard Medical School.  While we were lucky enough to be invited to present, there were other great speakers.  Here is a quick synopsis of Suki at the show some of the topics presented.

The event started for us with the presentation of our Best Healthcare Experience Voice19 trophy, which was awarded the prior week.  It was an honor to be recognized and included with other winners such as BBC Kids, Alexa, Prudential, and many more.  We were able to speak to a couple of the judges, and it was very gratifying to hear their views on our product and what we're doing.  We truly believe we're making a difference in healthcare, but it is always nice to have others recognize you.

I thought the most impressive presentation was by Henry O'Connell of Canary Speech.  In their own words, "Canary Speech is seeking to achieve enhancements in the diagnosis, treatment, and long-term enrichment of patient outcomes through the use of speech and language digital biomarkers. Such biomarkers have the potential to greatly facilitate improvements in diagnosis, care, and the quality of life for both patients and their families."  I was impressed by a few aspects of what they are doing, 1) the idea that you can use speech to diagnose disease is fascinating.  Mr. O'Connell mentioned that they believe speech is the second most data-rich source of healthcare data after the human genome.  2) We spend less than 0.3% of our time in a professional healthcare center, which means they have minimal opportunity to monitor patients in real-time.  Integrating with something like Alexa to monitor people opens up an entirely new world to observe people in their homes using the technology they are already using.  3) They are deploying their technology internationally in multiple languages.  As a voice company ourselves, we understand how challenging this is.

I was also impressed with Heidi Culbertson of Marvee. She is building voice technology to improve the lives of older adults, families, and those who care for the elderly.  Marvee uses voice technology on an Amazon Echo to enable older adults to live independently.  Examples of their skills include the ability to notify loved ones that they are okay, to remind them to take medicine or offer them interactive activities.  My favorite aspect of Mrs. Culbertson's presentation was the data around voice product usage by older adults.  There are a lot of assumptions that older adults are less likely to use newer technology than newer generations, and that is not the case.  We have to build products with them in mind, and they will use them.  One quote that stuck out was a user who responded to the idea that older adults were "afraid" of technology.  They replied, "we lived through World War II; why would we be afraid of this."  You have to love the Greatest Generation.

Finally, Yaa Kumah-Crystal gave an excellent presentation on the voice assistant work they are doing at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  In addition to being an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Pediatric Endocrinology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, she works at the Innovations Portfolio at Vanderbilt HealthIT.  There is some overlap with the work that we are doing at Suki, but it is great to see smart people working on the problem of physician burnout.  Their trial product, Veva, is designed to lessen the burden of retrieving patient information.  Veva provides doctors with summaries of today's patients, can retrieve information such as vital signs, histories, and complex data such as an A1c trend graphed over time.  Mrs. Kumah-Crystal is passionate and knowledgable about the topic and it was a fun presentation.

It was a great show, and we were thankful to be included.  The organizers did a great job of inviting impactful speakers and keeping the presentations on track.  We look forward to participating again next year.

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