A healthcare service-focused startup spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is using its voice-based insights into peoples' states of mind to help the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) improve mental health services to current and former members of the armed services.
Founded in 2007, Boston-based Cogito Corp. uses voice analytics software, data from voice recordings and mobile phone calls, and clinical research findings to assess engagement levels and other behavioral patterns during customer service calls. The company's customers include Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana and Partners Healthcare.
The software, called Cogito Dialog (pictured above), monitors human speech for patterns and behaviors that could indicate annoyance, confusion or disinterest, among other responses. Clinical research has found, for example, that rapid speech or frequent interrupting could signal that someone is annoyed with another speaker.
Cogito developed its analytics platform with grants and help from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and health-focused agencies, including the National Institute of Mental Health and Massachusetts General Hospital. In one Cogito case study, a healthcare provider using the firm's software reported a 25 percent increase in customer engagement and a 23 percent reduction in call times.
Voice Analysis To Identify At-Risk Veterans
In December, Cogito announced a contract under which the VA would use the company's analytics platform and mobile application to better assess the mental health of veterans calling for services as well as identify at-risk callers who might need suicide prevention or other new levels of care.
As part of the deal, the VA will gather information about callers -- who elect to enroll -- from recorded calls and mobile usage data, and then synthesize that data into "clinically validated behavioral indicators," according to the company.
"The fact the VA is investing in novel behavioral analytics and mobile sensing technology to improve the mental health of veterans demonstrates their commitment to finding innovative solutions that will improve health outcomes," said Joshua Feast, founder and CEO of Cogito.
'Real-Time Actionable Insights'
In addition to enabling healthcare organizations to improve phone interactions with clients and patients, Cogito also seeks to help a wider variety of businesses improve their call center experiences. That could help customers as well call-center professionals.
As a recent MIT article about Cogito noted, some 5 million U.S. workers -- about one out of every 25 people -- are employed in call centers.
The potential of the Cogito platform to improve productivity and satisfaction in such work environments has attracted the attention of Salesforce Ventures, which participated in a $5.5 million round of Series A funding for the company in November. The investment was led by Romulus Capital.
Cogito's software, "reveals unconscious signals in the human voice that improve how people relate to each other," said Romulus Capital managing partner Krishna Gupta. "Our experience has shown there is high demand for companies that can process complex data and produce real-time, actionable insights."