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Experienced ENT surgeons will often be able to discern the likelihood of significant laryngeal pathology in a patient referred with dysphonia by the sound of their voice during the initial history-taking phase of a consultation. With the move earlier in the year to the adoption of telephone and video consultations as a mainstream method of providing outpatient care, this ability has become even more important, especially in the context of initial remote consultations for new fast-track referrals for persistent dysphonia. Ideally, subjective interpretation of a patient’s voice quality during a telephone consultation would be augmented with more objective assessment methods, for instance via automated software analysis of a patient’s voice patterns. Even better still would be a readily available mobile phone app that could analyse a patient’s voice to help establish the underlying pathology in primary care or a patient’s own home. Is such technology a reality now? This systematic review would unfortunately suggest that there is a long way to go before we see clinically useful voice analysing mobile phone apps in widespread usage. Problems highlighted include the fact that some currently available apps are only available for either Apple phones or Android phones, and not both platforms. The variable quality of inbuilt microphones in phones also poses a challenge to accurate voice analysis. Nevertheless, some promising themes have emerged, with a suggestion for instance that apps can give results that are comparable to clinical voice analysis desktop software, and also correlate with results from the GRBAS scale. For now, however, no app exists that can provide an accurate diagnosis of laryngeal pathology based on analysis of a patient’s voice sample. As such, there continues to be no substitute for a consultation in person with an ENT surgeon combined with flexible nasolaryngoscopy to provide the most accurate assessment of a patient presenting with dysphonia.

The Current State and Future Possibilities of Mobile Phone “Voice Analyser” Applications, in Relation to Otorhinolaryngology.
Munnings AJ.
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Christopher Burgess

Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, UK.

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