Medical-Related Technological Innovation

Actual patient care sometimes involves complex cases wherein the patient’s condition deteriorates and his response to healthcare-associated personnel is unintelligible. These types of deterioration may be linked to some complication related to the disease of the patient, be it an organ or system function. Such conditions have resulted in specific innovations that provide a way to interact with such patients through the use of interactive voice response (IVR) and text-to-speech (TTS) systems.

The IVR system is composed of a talking computer that is connected to a touchtone telephone line.Such setup is commonly used in telephonic communications by computer programmers. The TTS on the other hand provides the capability of reading writer text through the use of a computer that is designed to read and play pre-recorded voice files that are correlated with the text that has been read out. The voice files generally consume large computer space for storage. This capability is effective for communicating large data, especially those that are specific to what the user has inputted or selected.

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Applications using the telephony setup provide advantages over internet-based programs because data in telephony setups may be obtained through telephone connections, while the internet-based programs only provide data when an internet connection exists at that time. Such technology was initially used by banks for retrieval of bank account information, for order information, for surveys and product information in marketing companies and for tax filing by US government agencies. To date, the IVR and TTS systems have been employed for educating and monitoring patients.It has also been tested in managing patients with specific diseases, as well as reminding patients of their doctor’s appointments (Mundt et al. , 2001; Stuart et al.

, 2003). These systems have also been used in teaching students and checking for their mastery and understanding of the course topic (Fung Kee Fung et al. , 2003).

Such technology is currently being evaluated for application to the pharmaceutical care laboratory setting, by providing an interactive teaching tool that may also assess the learning outcome in students (Hussein and Kawahara, 2006).VoiceTextTM is a powerful software created by Neospeech. com that provides a method in generating voice output from any inputted text. This software employs voices that have a natural sound, making communication in a much friendlier interaction with another individual. The software may be configured for application in different types of devices, including desktop and network settings, as well as in different languages such as English, Korean, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. VoiceTextTM is equipped with a number of features that facilitates communication of a speech-restricted patient or individual.It is supplied with features that employs natural sounds and clear pronunciation, so that the speech is very understandable.

The software is also supplied with a comprehensive dictionary that provides thousands of words as well as pronunciations at its default setting. Interestingly, the software has controls features that allow the user to control the pitch and volume of the voice output, as well as regulate the speed and pauses of the speech. In addition, the user has the ability to customize the settings for dates, times and abbreviations associated with addresses and mixed languages.The software is very powerful because it provides access to its network from a distance through an internet connection, and also allows delivery of data to the user’s PDA and email. This high quality program is also equipped with the ability to use English as a second language, with a maximum of three languages that may be used at one time. The software also allows customized features such as news reading, driving directions and book or document reading. The renowned scientist/physicist, Dr.Stephen Hawking, is one of the latest users of the VoiceTextTM technology.

Dr. Hawking suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is a degenerative motor neuron illness that restricts his physical movements yet retains his intellectual capacity. The only parts of his body that are still capable of moving are his two fingers on his right hand, and he is unable to speak. The text-to-speech technology is a prime assistive technology that facilitates Dr.

Hawking in communicating with the rest of the world.He is typically seen in public with a computer screen mounted on the arm of his wheel chair, of which runs his TTS software. The software enables him to press a switch in his hand to create words and sentences at his own command. Once he has built up a sentence, he sends it to the VoiceTextTM system, which converts his inputted text into speech. This technology has helped Dr. Hawking in continuing his life as a scientist/physicist, including writing scientific books and research papers, and giving lectures.

The development of the IVR-TTS system has tremendously facilitated communication among speech-restricted individuals and patients. Seeing the interactive nature of the human being, this medical-related technological innovation may provides special kinds of individuals to continue on with their lives, regardless of speech and motor impairment. References Fung Kee Fung K, Fung Kee Fung M, Bordage G and Norman G (2003): Interactive voice response to assess residents’ laparoscopic skills: An instrument validation study. Am. J.

Obstet. Gynecol.189:674-8. Hussein G and Kawahara N (2006): Innovations in teaching: Adaptive and longitudinal pharmaceutical care instruction using an interactive voice response/text-to-speech system. Am. J. Pharm.

Educ. 70(2):1-8. Mundt JC, Ferber KL, Rizzo M and Greist JH (2001): Computer-automated dementia screening using a touch-tone telephone. Arch. Intern. Med.

61:2481-7. Stuart GW, Laraia MT, Ornstein SM and Nietert PJ (2003): An interactive voice response system to enhance antidepressant medication compliance. Top. Health. Info.

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