When it Comes to Health, TTS Isn’t Always the Answer

Despite speech technology’s increasingly prominent role in the healthcare industry, some instances remain in which a human voice gets the job done just as well, if not better.

Healthcare technology company iReminder announced Tuesday that its Compliance for Life flagship product would come with enhanced features, giving its customers more options than text-to-speech (TTS) alone. Compliance for Life operates as an electronic reminder system distributed by pharmacists and healthcare providers to individuals or healthcare professionals, and allows a user to send out spoken messages to either themselves or family members reminding them to do things like take their medicines. In the past, users could only send out the reminders as TTS messages through a Web-based process:  users would log on to a Web site, type in their messages or choose from a preloaded list, and assign the messages' send times to specific numbers.

While the system worked, iReminder’s CEO and founder Amy Yoffie says that synthesized speech still cannot replace a human voice, especially when it comes to reminding loved ones to take their medicines.

"Nobody likes TTS, but we added [the human voice component] primarily to be a motivational item," Yoffie explains. "If you’re taking care of an elderly parent, it’s so much nicer to have them pick up the phone and hear a message from you."

In addition to the new, personalized service, iReminder has also made a name for itself in the compliance field because of its other features. Yoffie explains that iReminder’s competitors also send reminders via phone call, text message, or email, but stop short of penetrating all a user’s various communication devices if necessary.

"As the day goes on, [people] get busy or distracted," Yoffie states, "and they need a way to remember to take their medicines. The system will let them specify: call my home three times, if no one answers there, call my cell three times, and if there’s no answer there, then send an email. Most of our competitors have solutions that are in-home or expect people to be in one place – if the person isn’t there, they don’t get the message."

Compliance for Life [Official Site]

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