2024 Vertical Market Case Studies: Speech Technology in Healthcare

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WellSpan Health is an integrated health system headquartered in York, Pa. It operates eight hospitals and 220 patient care facilities throughout south-central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland, offering services such as diagnostic imaging, laboratory services, rehabilitation, primary care, urgent care, medical equipment and pharmaceutical sales, home healthcare, behavioral health services, and specialty care for conditions like heart disease and cancer. It employs more than 2,000 healthcare providers and extends service availability through an integrated network of 2,600 aligned physicians and advanced practice providers.

WellSpan Health’s vision is to reimagine healthcare through comprehensive, equitable, value-based health and wellness solutions while helping its patients and communities to be their healthiest. It also strives to deliver high-quality provider and patient experiences at all times, which inspired the company to add Nuance Communications’ Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX) Copilot solution to its existing clinical documentation solution for exam room and telehealth visits.

DAX Copilot uses proven conversational, ambient, and generative artificial intelligence technology to automatically draft clinical summaries of exam room or telehealth conversations in seconds for immediate review and entry in the electronic health record (EHR) system. This enables clinicians to engage with patients and their family members fully and naturally without the need to type notes on a computer during visits.

DAX Copilot is embedded within Epic’s EHR and is the only fully embedded ambient solution currently operational within Epic.

WellSpan’s selection of DAX Copilot is based on the long-standing trust and consistently productive working relationship it has with Nuance. That includes its positive experiences with its first deployment of Nuance DAX in 2020 to automate clinical documentation workflows and reduce administrative workloads that lead to physician burnout.

A WellSpan satisfaction survey found that 94 percent of physicians using DAX reported improvements in the quality of patient-physician interactions, and 85 percent said that reduced documentation workloads helped them achieve better work-life balance. Among patients, 97 percent reported that physicians who used the system were more focused, personable, and engaged during visits, while 88 percent said they were extremely satisfied with their visit compared to their experiences before DAX was in use.

WellSpan Health hospitals were recognized as “High Performing” in the U.S. News & World Report 2023-2024 Best Hospitals rankings. WellSpan Health facilities were also recognized for exemplary patient experience among the top 5 percent of U.S. hospitals in 2023 by Press Ganey, a leader in healthcare experience solutions and services.

“We have long recognized the central importance of the quality of each patient’s experience in every interaction with our health system and especially with their primary care and other providers,” says Dr. R. Hal Baker, WellSpan senior vice president and chief digital and information officer. “With DAX Copilot, we’re building on our continuing success with DAX and the trust that Nuance has consistently earned over time by giving our clinicians additional state-of-the-art tools to lessen administrative burdens, reduce the time needed to complete documentation, enhance their ability to deliver high-quality personalized care, and expand access to care. Patients also appreciate the benefits of DAX Copilot knowing that they have their doctor’s full and undivided attention during their visits.”

Studies by the American Medical Association and other organizations have found that physicians need up to two hours to complete clinical documentation and other administrative tasks for each hour of patient care delivered. That causes the quality of physician-patient interactions during exams to decline, as physicians often document care while delivering it to keep up with clinical and administrative workloads.

“WellSpan Health’s deployment of DAX Copilot embedded in Epic advances its long-standing commitment to empower its clinicians with solutions to provide top-quality care and excellent patient experiences,” said Robert Dahdah, corporate vice president of global health and life sciences at Microsoft, Nuance’s parent company. “It also builds on WellSpan’s mission to improve health through exceptional care for all by providing its clinicians with innovations that allow them to commit their full time and attention to providing the best patient care, which is why they all went to medical school.”

Part of the larger family of Dragon-based solutions, DAX Copilot enables healthcare organizations to adopt a new generation of AI-powered clinical documentation applications at scale while leveraging existing investments in the Nuance Dragon Medical platform.

Dragon Medical One is a cloud-based speech recognition solution to document clinical visits in the EHR. Clinicians use their voices to capture the patient story, interact with key clinical systems, and access information to facilitate patient care.

The DAX solution within Dragon Medical One provides a conversational AI workflow assistant and clinical documentation companion, using artificial intelligence to capture voice-generated content directly into more than 200 supported electronic record systems, including Epic’s. It also lets physicians navigate systems using their voices with Nuance’s clinical speech recognition. It requires no voice profile training and includes a professional medical vocabulary, accent adjustments, and microphone calibration to improve accuracy and the user experience. Other key features include auto punctuation; a dictation box that allows physicians to access notes and transfer text between apps; the ability to document notes using a smartphone as a secure wireless microphone; the ability to automate how commonly used content and information is added to clinical notes; customized templates; and advanced step-by-step commands to format, correct, and navigate notes and records, move through patient charts, place orders, and sign notes. Users can also customize shortcuts for personal emails, Microsoft Office documents, or complex searches.

Furthermore, providers can launch Dragon Medical One directly from the EHR and then rely on their automated commands and macros to complete their documentation workflows. And when it’s time to describe patients, their conditions, and treatment plans, voice recognition means telling complete stories directly into the note template.

And the doctors and staff at WellSpan are in good company. More than 550,000 users rely on Dragon Medical for a more productive, personalized documentation experience. Users report that the solution works three times faster than typing on a computer, cuts the time spent on documentation in half, and cuts the time spent on after-hours work by 28 percent. Nuance also says the solution operates with accuracy that tops 98 percent. 

The Payoff

With Nuance Communications’ Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX) Copilot, WellSpan Health has seen the following results:

  • 94 percent of physicians using DAX Copilot reported improvements in patient-physician interactions.
  • 85 percent said that reduced documentation workloads helped them achieve better work-life balance.
  • 97 percent of patients reported that physicians who used DAX Copilot were more focused, personable, and engaged during visits.
  • 88 percent said they were extremely satisfied with their visit compared to their experiences before DAX Copilot was in use.

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