Speech recognition software provides a lot to talk about


Keith Loria, Reporter | February 19, 2011
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

The difference between what’s said and what’s heard can be huge. Sometimes the speaker can be blamed for miscommunication, other times the listener is at fault. For speech communication software, it’s a different situation. The speaker is still available, but on the listener side there’s only the manufacturer to blame. Fortunately, the software has come a long way since its inception. It’s a good thing too, since some manufacturers believe speech recognition will provide big benefits to health care providers in the future.

“Connecting the voice to the data in an EHR is the key to achieving meaningful use,” says Christopher Spring, vice president of product management with Medquist. “Some hospital executives don’t even want to show new technology, which bridges the gap between their current dictation methods and the newer EHR templates to their providers because they are worried that it will discourage them from using the EHR.”

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As people start to better understand the challenges and technological capabilities of clinical documentation related to EHRs, they will begin to understand that they don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

“New speech recognition platforms encourage physician use of EHRs by eliminating the frustrations inherent in the pull-down menus of the past,” Spring says.

Keith Belton, senior director of product marketing for Nuance, says that the biggest buzz in the industry is the application of speech recognition to address the federal requirements regarding electronic health records.

“The physicians didn’t go to medical school to type. In order to get the data into the EHR efficiently and completely, speech recognition is really the way to enable that process,” he says.

Pros are many
Advancements in speech recognition are coming fast. Speech recognition technology is well on its way to becoming one of the most widely adopted technologies in health care settings because it can significantly reduce documentation time and can boost both the availability and accuracy of patient records.

“We see this as a growing trend in the industry,” says Don Fallati, senior vice president, marketing for speech recognition vendor M*Modal. “It tends to be a richer documentation than traditional methods found in EHRs through pull-down menus. Physicians appear to favor speech as a [documentation method].”

Time is money
The oft-stated maxim of time equaling money holds true in the realm of physician documentation software, with speech recognition serving as a real time saver.

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