Does Speech Recognition have a place in the NHS?

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Posted 20th February 2015 by admin_g2

We are used to technology being fast and at our fingertips. Whether it be; sending an email, reading the latest news headlines or checking the lottery numbers. As an evolving society we expect information to be delivered quickly and accurately. After all, time is precious!

This is no different in the NHS. Communication is essential when providing healthcare and it needs to be fast and accurate as it can be the difference between life and death. The NHS is one of the best public services on the planet but is under significant pressure to operate on a more productive basis whilst maintaining its high level of service. Primary and Secondary care givers are constantly being challenged to work more efficiently but still maintain (if not improve) the level of service they provide. This seems to be the greatest challenge of them all. How do you provide the best care whilst increasing productivity?

Speech recognition can help provide the best level of care whilst making efficiency savings. Speech recognition allows care givers to keep patient data up to date and accurate. Instead of typing, speech recognition allows physicians and other staff to create documents quickly whilst actually improving the quality and consistency. Technology cannot replace a human being (yet). However, by utilising speech recognition within a defined workflow, the process of creating a report can be optimised to improve speed and accuracy.
Speech recognition can sometimes still have the reputation as not being very accurate. Fortunately with advances in technology as well as a huge investment from global enterprises like Microsoft and Apple, this stigma is rapidly dissipating. We currently have NHS sites of over 1000 authors utilising speech recognition with recognition rates of some users registering above 98%.

G2 Speech is currently the only company to have delivered trustwide speech recognition. Some of our more mature sites have been using a solution for over seven years, but where did it all begin?

Originally a physician would dictate a report directly to a secretary who would take notes to create a letter. This was extremely time and resource exhausting. Then came the audio tapes, which enabled a physician to be more mobile as well as stack work to be transcribed at a later date i.e at the end of a clinic or working day. The issue with analogue systems is the poor sound quality of the recordings, meaning that dictations are often misinterpreted. The number of times I have heard about lost or corrupted tapes, highlights a serious inefficiency, not to mention the information governance issues these present! Analogues largest drawback, when looking at it from a workflow/ productivity perspective, is that there is no way in which to monitor the number of dictations on a tape, or the lengths. Thus it is nigh on impossible to estimate what a backlog is and how much work a department/person is getting through.
This was solved by moving into the digital age. By utilising computers and electronic audio files, systems were able to breakdown every dictation into individual jobs. This resulted in quantifiable workloads for medical secretaries. Along with improvements in monitoring workload, the digital age has brought about the ability to integrate. We can now provide workflow solutions, solving multiple problems and inefficiencies as well providing extended benefits through one overriding integrated solution. The benefits I have seen through technological advances to our customers are incredible. Being able to automatically populate documents with demographical information, dictate in real-time, utilising templates and auto texts and then sign off the document electronically has vastly improved, not only turnaround time but the way in which the work is approached.

New technologies are constantly evolving, it is very exciting time!! My team is currently looking at mobility, structured reporting and clinical coding, to name a couple and how these technologies can be developed and incorporated into our system to provide even more benefits to the NHS and other marketplaces where we sit. Through conversations with our current customers we have a good grasp on where we need to focus our efforts, however in this ever changing industry new opportunities continue to arise.

In response to my original question; does Speech Recognition have a place in the NHS? Undoubtedly, but it goes much further than that. Particularly with government initiatives such as; Paperless NHS 2018. The ability to utilise speech recognition in all its forms within a workflow that includes, a demographical clinic work list, electronic signoff, automatic distribution of documents and the ability to access all of this from a single mobile platform is really providing our customers with versatile, futureproof solutions.

These are extremely exciting times! What are your thoughts on speech recognition? Have you seen benefits in your area of work?

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