By Summer Rippel
Senior Writer, Tobii Dynavox
For most, eye tracking is a novel and completely foreign concept. The idea of being able to control a computer or medical device with only your eyes feels like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie. However, Tobii Dynavox has been on a mission for the past 15 years to harness this innovative and life-changing technology and bring a new voice to those who are unable to speak on their own.
Eye tracking, or gaze interaction, is the process of measuring where one is looking or one’s position of the eyes. The speech generating devices (SGDs) with eye tracking technology, manufactured by Tobii Dynavox, allow individuals who are non-verbal and non-mobile to communicate using only their eyes. For some individuals, these devices are their only way to communicate and be heard.
Many patients in hospital and medical settings can experience short or long-term difficulty communicating with their healthcare providers. These problems can be a result of new conditions such as traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, or pre-existing conditions such as ALS, cerebral palsy, or autism. In these scenarios, the use of eye tracking technology can mean the difference between being unheard or having a voice in their personal care – this includes being able to express your pain level, convey your critical needs to a healthcare provider, or simply say “I need help.” Having this voice can ultimately contribute to improved care, outcomes, and quality of life for the patient while also enabling the healthcare providers to deliver enhanced patient-centered care.
As a way to bring this cutting edge technology into ERs, critical care units, and other healthcare facilities, Tobii Dynavox’s Healthcare Integration Program partners with hospitals and healthcare providers to support the complex communication needs of their patients throughout their continuum of care. By integrating solutions from Tobii Dynavox’s portfolio including eye tracking (I-Series+), software (Communicator 5), touch-based hardware and tablets, healthcare providers are able to access best in class Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) solutions for their patients.
In addition to using eye tracking for communication, Tobii Dynavox has engineered ways to use this technology for environmental controls – whether it’s in the hospital or during the recovery process at home. Patients are easily able to use their eyes to call for a nurse, turn the lights on or off, or even adjust the volume on the TV, and more. The technology can also help keep patients socially connected to their family, friends and the world outside the hospital. Communication advantages for patients can include the ability to access the internet, text messaging, being able to Skype, and make phone calls.
The impact of assistive technology use in a medical setting is felt organization-wide, from the patient, caregivers, to the healthcare professionals and leadership. Patients experience overall improved quality of care and emotional wellbeing because of their improved ability to communicate. Healthcare professionals can gather more accurate patient information and better understand patient needs, resulting in decreased risk of medical errors related to miscommunication and higher levels of patient satisfaction. Aside from complex communication needs, another great application is for nurses or doctors who may not speak the same language as the patient, these solutions can act as the communication bridge between patient and provider by helping to translate words.
Overall, the use of cutting-edge eye tracking technology in patient care can improve the healthcare team’s ability to provide safe and efficient care while dramatically improving patient satisfaction. As the world-wide leader in assistive technology and eye tracking, Pittsburgh-based Tobii Dynavox believes that when their devices are used in the hospital or any other medical setting, the patient/provider relationship is strengthened and together, they can decide on the best course of care. With the healthcare community taking notice of the benefits of eye-tracking, a once novel concept has become a game-changer with deep potential impact and a new voice in patient-centered care.
For more information on Tobii Dynavox, visit http://www.tobiidynavox.com/hospital/.