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Case study: New training programme helps speech therapy app develop in healthcare

The Healthcare Challenge

Some 2.5 million people have a speech or language difficulty in the UK. 30 percent of people who’ve had a stroke have a persisting speech disorder. 75 percent of people with mental health disorders have communication difficulties.

The Solutions and Outcomes to Date

Jenny Dance, a former marketing analyst and language school owner from Bristol, originally developed her app ‘Say It: Pronunciation from Oxford’, for foreign language students. The app contains 30,000 model recordings from Oxford University Press dictionaries and uses touch-screen technology to help users improve their pronunciation. When Jenny showed Say It to speech therapists, she realised it was equally useful for improving fluency and comprehension in a clinical environment. The app is now set to become an aid for people with speech challenges resulting from conditions such as strokes, cerebral palsy and Parkinson’s disease. Patient focus groups will test the app, to see how it can best be adapted for clinical purposes. She is working with the Research Unit for Speech and Language Therapy at the University of the West of England and with North Bristol Trust to look at further uses for the technology and hopes it will be on the market early next year.

Jenny says, “This app has the potential to improve the quality of life for millions of people across the UK. The visual design focuses on the number of syllables in the word and where you should place the stress: the two most important factors in mastering English pronunciation.”

Support from the West of England AHSN

Jenny has been successful in progressing her app thanks to the Healthcare Innovation Programme led by the West of England AHSN.

“Had the West of England AHSN not offered this training programme, it would have been impossible to build a convincing business case for potential health commissioners. The Network helped us understand who are customers were, how to communicate with them, and the thinking they were looking for before making a decision on a product.”

Jenny Dance, Director, Phona Ltd