New Tommy’s Midwife Voice App Answers Pandemic Pregnancy Questions
British philanthropic group, Tommy’s, has released a voice app for pregnant women to answer their questions and connect them with medical professionals as needed. The charity published Tommy’s Midwife Voice Skill for both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa ahead of its original schedule specifically to assist pregnant women concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their health and the health of their babies.
The Tommy’s Midwife voice app was built in a partnership between the charity and digital agencies Mindshare and Voxly. Anyone can enable the skill on a Google or Amazon smart speaker or through the smartphone apps of the voice assistants. The idea is that pregnant women can ask any question as it occurs to them, instead of needing to wait to ask a doctor. The voice app also circumvents the danger of bad information by relying on the National Health Service for its answers. There’s also less chance of feeling too embarrassed or awkward to ask questions about pregnancy and childbirth, which the charity cites as something that will entice people to try the voice app.
The voice app can answer more than 400 questions asked in natural language and was updated ahead fo the launch to include information about the coronavirus and how it might impact a pregnant woman and her child. There is additionally a long list of mental health-related questions that relate not only to standard situations, but also the additional mental stress of self-isolating during the pandemic. As high anxiety is common to more than 80% of pregnant women, anyway, the mental health answers are vital, according to Tommy’s Midwife.
“Tommy’s Midwife is a voice skill here to help answer (almost) any question that people have about pregnancy, labour and birth. Users can ask about their physical health and any symptoms or complications they may experience,” Tommy’s head of pregnancy information Sarah Siguine said in a statement. “The skill also provides lifestyle recommendations such as diet and exercise tips, as well as practical information on topics like maternity leave, pain relief and handling morning sickness. We’re really proud to have worked with Mindshare to develop this Skill and we’re confident it’ll extend our ability to support women during such an important – and often overwhelming – phase of their lives.”
Reliable healthcare information is critical at all times, but the coronavirus pandemic has heightened the response from governments and healthcare providers. All of the major voice assistants have a continually evolving response to questions about the virus and its spread, including pandemic tips from Google Assistant and the CDC’s COVID-19 questionnaire on Alexa as well as Siri. Meanwhile, the British government created a WhatsApp chatbot to answer questions about the pandemic for the whole population, while U.S. healthcare providers are working to spread voice and chatbots that can educate the public while reducing demand on healthcare providers. Tools like Tommy’s Midwife will be pertinent to more and more women as the pandemic continues, and families have to adjust birth plans to accommodate new safety precautions.