Following two senior members of the Ruder Finn team, Leah Peyton, Director on our healthcare team, and Tracey Bowditch, Senior Account Director from our technology team, attending WIRED Health 2019 recently, we’ve diving deeper into the key themes and topics from the conference, which are shaping the future of the digital health landscape.

In the last blog, we looked at how AI will be at the forefront of next generation healthcare, discussing how the technology is set to have a crucial role as an enabler for faster drug discovery and diagnoses, more tailored treatments and a better understanding of disease pathologies. In the second of a four-part blog series, we’re taking a closer look at the role sensory technology can play in detecting a wide range of potential health issues.

It’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it

We leave digital signatures about how we are feeling all the time, without ever realising it. As Poppy Crum, Chief Scientist at Dolby Laboratories explained; the way we talk, look, and hear can unconsciously reveal how we are feeling on the inside. Use of sensory technology has already exploded due to huge reductions in the cost, size and availability of these sensors; and this is only set to increase. Sensors will be used in the future to detect these feelings and help diagnose a wide variety of diseases and mental health issues, even before normal clinical presentation.

She used the example of the way people speak. Sensors can track various tones in the voice to detect and alert someone to when something is wrong. Technology can capture information on individuals more effectively than ever before, leading to a faster and more accurate diagnosis.

We also saw another example of the way we respond to certain external situations will indicate our internal state. The WIRED Health 2019 start-up showcase winner, FacePrint, an app developed by High School Student Erin Smith, helps to diagnose Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other neurological conditions through facial recognition. Well done to Erin, awesome piece of work.

The app can identify certain facial expressions, such as a smile or laugh, when a patient is watching a comedy programme, indicating changes in the brain linked to certain neurological conditions. This it’s hoped will lead to earlier diagnosis of PD or other such neurological conditions, years before the traditional symptoms present and disease has progressed.

We’ll be back next week with part three of our WIRED Health series, where we’ll be taking a closer look at the future of personalised healthcare devices.