News Feature | July 8, 2014

New Approaches To Voice Recognition Technology In Healthcare

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

Doctor ON tablet

Voice recognition technology has been advancing rapidly lately, and the market has shown a growth rate of 20 percent per year, according to Health IT Outcomes. These advancements have meant that hospitals are jumping on board to take advantage of their cost cutting benefits. That said, not all providers are taking the same path, and solutions providers will need to be aware of the differences in the way health organizations are approaching the technology in order to properly address their clients.  

EHR Integration

Using command-and-control advances in voice recognition technology, medical transcription has moved to a point where it can be seamlessly integrated with EHRs (electronic health records). Take the example of the Emergency Department (ED) at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia, CA.

The hospital was spending about $1.5 million a year on ED transcription alone. A switch to voice recognition severely reduced that number and ultimately changed the department workflow — clinicians are now able to start a document, and then pick up and finish it later. For doctors, this has meant an elimination of the two or three hours at the end of their shift doing dictation, since now, documents are created in real time. This also means that the EHR is created as the patient works their way through the system, bringing along the added benefit of any clinician being able to pick up a record where a previous one left off.

When asked about how doctors react to technology like EHR integrated voice recognition, Dr. Bud Lawrence, director of risk management at Henry Mayo responded, “The underlying theme is that technology is good. Although they may seem counterproductive when you first look at them, and don’t understand the full scope of what they can do, once you spend just a little bit of time looking into the products that are out there and understand what voice recognition can do, there’s so much power there.”

Outsourcing

Advances in voice recognition aren’t all about cutting edge EHR integration. Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) announced last month that it will be outsourcing its medical transcription services by August of this year, a move prompted by advances in voice-recognition technology.

“Medical transcription has changed over the last 10 years. It has been moving more toward speech-recognition technology,” MRMC CEO Alan Watson said. “Because of that, there is less time involved in transcription. It is rapidly becoming the choice for health care providers to generate our medical documentation.”

Concerns

Outsourcing, of course, raises security questions. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) marked its 50th data security case earlier this year, with a settlement by a medical transcription services provider accused of failing to adequately protect consumer information, resulting in medical files being indexed by publicly accessible search engines.

Opportunities For VARs

These changes mean opportunities for security-focused solutions providers to help ensure compliance and security for companies like Burlington, MA-based Nuance Communications Inc., which will be taking over MRMC’s medical transcription responsibilities.

When it comes to advancements in voice recognition, solutions providers should stay mindful of how advanced their current and potential clients are in the spectrum of the technology. Whether outsourcing transcriptions to more efficient organizations, or integrating advanced voice recognition EHR systems themselves, you will be sure to find needs around IT services.

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