Geisinger COPD study to test vocal biomarker algorithm

By | June 3, 2019

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease experience exacerbations caused by an infection in the lung. But a novel technique is being studied by Geisinger Health System to detect these flare-ups.

Geisinger’s Voice Analysis of COPD Patients with Exacerbations (VOICE) study, supported by a grant from pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, will evaluate an algorithm for vocal biomarkers that gives clinicians the ability to assess the voice of their patients wherever and whenever they speak on their smartphones.

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The algorithm, developed by Israeli artificial intelligence vendor Healthymize, transforms smartphones into remote patient monitoring devices for voice-affecting diseases such as asthma, COPD and pneumonia.

Healthymize analyzes voice samples from patients to identify the onset of flare-ups—characterized by shortness of breath, coughing and sputum production—to provide treatment and prevent deterioration of their condition and prevent hospitalization.

“If we detect changes in a patient’s health condition earlier, we can reduce hospitalization and administer care in a timely manner at home,” says Paul F. Simonelli, MD, principal investigator of the study and chair of the Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Geisinger. “We know that early detection of exacerbation improves outcomes, and Healthymize has the potential to present an easy-to-use solution that monitors patients from home.”

Currently, Geisinger is recruiting patients between the ages of 40 and 80 who have a prior year history of COPD exacerbations including bronchitis or pneumonia. Participants will be required to perform daily voice recordings and questionnaires over a six-month period.

“Healthymize can start with COPD and then expand to other chronic care concerns, such as heart disease and mental health issues,” adds Simonelli.

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