Exploring feasibility of digital voice assistants for dementia and mild cognitive impairments  

This project is exploring the use of digital voice assistants to support older people with dementia and/or mild cognitive impairment.

Dr Paul Jansons wants to transform the way healthcare is delivered for older people with dementia and/or mild cognitive impairment. 

Together with an industry partner, he has developed innovative software which uses digital voice assistants such as an Amazon Alexa for a project supported by Dementia Australia. 

Digital voice assistants, which can interpret human speech, will be used to deliver 12-week personalised cognitive rehabilitation program. 

Dr Jansons said digital voice assistants were ideal to deliver personalised strategies such as medication/appointment reminders or to assist people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia to carry out daily living activities such as meal preparation.  

A major part of the project is to understand the barriers and facilitators to implementation from the perspective of stakeholders, providers and participants. Dr Jansons will also assess study processes including recruitment and retention rates, adherence and acceptability of the program.  

While emerging evidence shows many digital health approaches are safe and effective, personalised rehabilitation programs remain challenging and time-consuming for health care professionals to monitor. Dr Jansons believes this program may be more easily applied to a real-world setting than other telehealth applications, such as videoconferencing.  

“If digital voice assistant technology is found to be an effective way to help people with MCI and dementia with their daily living, there will be less need for regular face-to face care and patients are potentially more likely to follow professional medical advice,” Dr Jansons said.  

“This could lead to better healthcare outcomes and reduced costs on a massive scale.”