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Crowdbotics Helps VoiceLove Connect ICU Patients With Families

In 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Drs. Tamatha Fenster and Marc Schiffman knew there had to be a better way to connect intensive care unit (ICU) patients with their loved ones. Because the hospitals restricted in-person ICU visits for various reasons, the primary method of communication between patients and families was a phone call or video chat with nurses serving as middlemen controlling a mobile device.

Fenster and Schiffman realized that the whole process needed to be more efficient. First, while most nurses were happy to help connect patients and loved ones, it took them away from their day-to-day duties and other patients. In addition, engaging in FaceTime or Zoom video calls proved rather depressing for patients and their families.

To combat this, the duo devised a clever solution: a walkie-talkie-like system connected to an app that allowed families to speak to ICU patients with the touch of a button via a speaker attached to their hospital bed. The system was tested across 10 care units at New York Presbyterian, successfully helping dozens of patients and their families.

Fast forward to 2024, and what started as a side project to help connect families has turned into a legitimate startup with an eye on transforming patient-family communication: VoiceLove.

“Loneliness is heartbreaking,” says VoiceLove CEO Gabriela Pelin​. “Being disoriented and isolated makes patients sad, and this impairment delays recovery. But our value proposition is simple: love heals.”

Indeed, physicians have adopted what is known as the “ABCDEF bundle,” an evidence-based set of guidelines to optimize ICU patient recovery and outcomes. Each letter in the bundle represents a key component of recovery — the letter A, for example, stands for “assess, prevent and manage pain.” In VoiceLove’s case, the letter F is the most significant: family engagement and empowerment.

“When people are disconnected physically, we’re able to bring them together and help them heal,” Pelin​ says.

The system has also helped parents connect with their young children. Pre-term babies and infants that need surgeries immediately after birth are typically placed in some type of ICU. When this happens, VoiceLove helps parents who may be unable to be there physically due to other kids at home or an inability to take time off from work. Singing and reading bedtime stories to the baby allows them to connect, creating a lifeline for these parents and their children.

After several years of testing the system, VoiceLove will launch its product officially in 2024. To get the product to market as quickly as possible, the company turned to Crowdbotics to help develop its app, knowing our CodeOps method of expedited software development could promptly produce an attractive-looking and fully functional app that meets the medical industry’s stringent HIPAA regulations.

“Crowdbotics has the right mindset to reuse existing code and only focus on value-added aspects of the app,” says Pelin. “And they also have the speed — speed-to-market is critical for a startup like us.”

Why Crowdbotics

Businesses like VoiceLove choose Crowdbotics because of its:

What VoiceLove Will Accomplish

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has identified loneliness and isolation as a nationwide epidemic, and it can hinder the recovery of ICU patients. VoiceLove will combat this significant challenge by helping families connect seamlessly with their loved ones in the ICU while enabling nurses in the department to optimize care delivery.

“Doctors and nurses are overworked, but this systematically eliminates so much of that,” Pelin says. “We help families feel better, patients feel better, and nurses feel better. Ultimately, we have one message: Love is the most powerful drug in the cabinet.”