Challenges and opportunities for voice therapy services in the context of Covid19

The Covid19 coronavirus disease affects the human voice and also voice intervention and service provision in various ways:

  1. Covid19 patients experience significant changes in their voice quality
  2. Hoarse voice is a significant predictor of “long Covid” and also one of its more persistent symptoms
  3. Standard voice assessment procedures have been significantly disrupted by Covid19 measures
  4. Remote voice assessment and therapy have become urgent requirements in this context

Our study will look at the potential of the Fitvoice smartphone and web app – which has originally been developed for preventative voice intervention and research – to become a clinical voice assessment and therapy tool.

In combination with other funding streams this project will deliver the following outcomes:

  1. A pilot feasibility study and technical readiness review for remote voice data capture as a clinical tool.
  2. A survey of Scottish voice clinics and voice therapists with respect to current barriers on clinical practice in the Context of Covid19 and beyond.
  3. A funding application for a Proof of Concept study of a smartphone-based tool to support clinical voice disorder assessment and therapy.

We see potential to provide substantial improvements to voice assessment and voice therapy services by

  1. Giving voice therapists access to remote voice audio and survey data, beyond data collected during appointments
  2. Empowering people with voice problems and disorders to manage their own intervention
  3. Supporting baseline and outcome assessment through acoustic analysis
  4. Extending, preparing, and complementing voice therapy intervention

We would aim for Fitvoice to become an NHS trusted digital tool in the future. NHSx has announced the publication of new Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) for January 2021, and it is therefore timely to develop a strategy for the integration of Fitvoice into NHS services. We would expect that this integration would lead to substantial commercial opportunities.

This funding will help me to focus on research and KE activities over a period of 4 months and will provide continuation of funding for a clinical research assistant with experience in voice intervention and clinical acoustic voice analysis.

Contact Felix Schaeffler

Staff Profiles 

Felix Schaefer Staff Profile

Division: Speech and Hearing Sciences/CASL Research Centre