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Latest Digital Tool Uses Sound, Word Patterns to Reveal Stress Level

Aug 10, 2021   |   MobiHealthNews

Hong Kong-headquartered health service firm Cigna International announced today the launch of a digital tool that can evaluate a person’s stress level.

The company has partnered with AI medical technology company Ellipsis Health to develop the Cigna StressWaves Test, which is touted to be the world’s first voice-activated stress test. 

WHAT IT DOES

Based on a press statement, the StressWaves Test is a free online tool that analyses stress through sound and semantic patterns. Users are asked to answer open-ended, low stigma questions for 90 seconds, after which the user’s stress level will be revealed – ranging from “Extremely Stressed” to “No Stress”.

The digital tool was designed to be accessible for people despite their age, sex and education level. It was also made to be interoperable with various systems and electronic devices, as long as there is a microphone and internet connection. 

Voice recordings from users are not stored. 

Cigna said the technology was borne out of two decades of research. The AI tool’s algorithm, which was created by Ellipsis Health, was trained using a dataset from over 15,000 adults aged 18 and above, ensuring that it can cater to different populations with varying accents and levels of English-speaking ability.

The StressWaves Test also complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and General Data Protection Regulation.

WHY IT MATTERS

COVID-19 has placed many pressures on people’s lives. Cigna found from its survey published in June that 83% of people reported being stressed, while 13% said they are under “unmanageable” stress. The online stress test was developed to inform people about stress and encourage them to seek professional help. 

THE LARGER TREND

In 2018, Cigna joined hands with Happify Health and Prevail to include their platforms in the Cigna Total Behavioural Health programme. 

Most recently in April this year, Cigna started offering the behavioural health coaching, therapy and psychiatry services of behavioural health platform Ginger as an additional benefit for its employer-sponsored or individual and family insurance plan members.

Last year in August, Ellipsis Health released a clinical decision support tool for providers and payers to measure anxiety and depression symptoms. Intended for use as a health screening or remote monitoring tool, the Rising Higher app listens to a patient’s speech to make behavioural health predictions.  

ON THE RECORD

“Stress and mental health issues have been pushed up the agenda in recent years. While this increased awareness is a positive change, the pandemic has created many new pressures in our lives. If stress goes unchecked, we may see dramatic consequences and that’s why innovative health tools like the Cigna StressWaves Test are so important. By providing simple solutions at scale that are easy to use and accessible when the people need them most, we can encourage people to learn more about stress and seek professional help as appropriate,” Dr Peter Mills, associate medical director at Cigna Europe, said.

“We are proud to partner with Cigna to offer the StressWaves Test to the general public for free so that we can help individuals around the world address their stress as early as possible to prevent it from progressing into more serious mental health issues,” Dr Michael Aratow, co-founder and chief medical officer at Ellipsis Health, also commented. Read More

Authors

Adam Ang

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