Speech Technology Magazine

 

Market Spotlight: Speech Technology Eases the Pain of Electronic Healthcare Records

Healthcare organizations today are being pulled in many directions as they try to provide higher quality care while at the same time reducing costs and maintaining regulatory compliance.
By Leonard Klie - Posted Nov 10, 2016
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Healthcare organizations today are being pulled in many directions as they try to provide higher quality care while at the same time reducing costs and maintaining regulatory compliance.

These demands have placed added pressure on medical professionals to use technology, especially for patient documentation. Many healthcare organizations now use speech recognition software, from companies like Nuance Communications, M*Modal, and 3M, to allow their clinicians to verbally enter their own patient data into electronic healthcare records rather than relying on laborious typing or expensive transcription services.

When they select these types of solutions, increasingly they are looking for Web and mobile apps with embedded cloud-based speech technologies. More vendors now offer real-time voice recognition in a cloud environment rather than workstation-based solutions.

M*Modal’s cloud-based Speech Under­standing technology is reportedly used by more than 200,000 clinicians.

Nuance earlier this year released its own cloud-based dictation platform, called Dragon Medical One. It expects the pace of adoption for cloud-based speech technologies in the healthcare space to continue. It found recently that 94 percent of healthcare organizations are considering or strongly interested in cloud-hosted clinical speech recognition, with 89 percent citing portability as the top benefit.

“Physicians are more mobile than ever, both inside and outside the hospital. At the same time, there is an increased need for patient stories to become immediately available in the patient’s record,” said Dr. Ehab Hanna, chief medical information officer at Universal Health Services, which has deployed Nuance dictation technologies in 16 facilities nationwide.

Universal is just one of more than 3,000 healthcare organizations that rely on cloud technology from Nuance.

In total, Nuance healthcare solutions, both cloud-based and installed on static workstations, touch more than 300 million patient stories each year, supporting more than 500,000 clinicians and 10,000 healthcare facilities worldwide.

Among the healthcare providers that have deployed Nuance within the past few months are Nebraska Medical, the University of Texas’s MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Christus Health. For healthcare organizations, such deployments can be hugely beneficial. Christus, for example, reports a 38 percent reduction in average report turnaround time and a significant reduction in operating costs.

“Clients such as Christus Health have come to rely on our clinical documentation improvement solutions to drive superior clinical and financial outcomes for the organization while simultaneously enabling their clinicians to improve their efficiency and satisfaction, freeing them to focus on their true purpose, caring for patients,” said Peter Durlach, senior vice president of marketing and strategy at Nuance’s Healthcare Division, in a statement.

And it’s not just doctors who are turning to speech technologies to document their patient interactions. Now some health systems are deploying the technology for nurses and ancillary providers to record their progress notes, admissions, patient histories, physical exam results, discharge summaries, and other data.

Regardless of whether solutions are targeted at doctors or support staff, though, the underlying voice recognition technology for healthcare has continued to improve. Today’s technology is much more accurate and sophisticated, due in large part to improvements in the quality of input devices, faster processing speeds, and the development of medical-specific templates, macros, and vocabularies.

Nuance’s Dragon medical dictation application, for example, supports updated vocabularies for more than 90 medical specialties and subspecialties. It also learns users’ unique voices over time and grows even more accurate. The software also allows users to set up custom words for terminology unique to their specific locations or areas of specialty and create simple dictation commands for multiple lines or formatted text.

Nuance is hoping to increase accuracy even further with its recent release of Dragon Medical Advisor, a computer-assisted physician documentation solution that automatically provides real-time quality feedback to physicians while they are documenting patient encounters.

Dragon Medical Advisor processes physician notes entered through speech or keyboard, analyzes the structured and unstructured documentation within the notes, and automatically provides physicians with clinical documentation improvement recommendations based on industry best practices and guidelines.

Designed for both inpatient and ambulatory settings, Dragon Medical Advisor automatically recognizes when incomplete or unspecific information is entered and provides relevant advice on how to improve the quality of the note.

“Dragon Medical Advisor functions like a specialized medical virtual assistant for physicians,” said Joe Petro, senior vice president of healthcare research and development at Nuance, in a statement. “It provides immediate feedback during clinical documentation and focuses on high-impact areas, such as congestive heart failure, where the lack of required specificity can negatively ­affect patient care, as well as coding and risk adjustment.”

M*Modal’s technology advancements are bringing more complex insights and analytics into the documentation workflow, including clinical analytics, best practices, predictive analytics, and risk modeling.

With solutions like these, dictation software is quickly advancing beyond just taking notes to advising care teams toward best practices and proactively closing the gaps in documentation and care. 

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