It is a reality that devices designed for a specific purpose outlast multifunctional apparatus; evident in our own industry through the use of mobile applications providing recording functions to the user on Smartphones, Tablets and standard Mobile Phones.
- How many people still use a calculator?
- How many tablet owners continue to use a mobile phone?
- How many of us still put pen to paper?
- How many folk use dated, 20-years old PC-technology to perform existing processes?
Whilst the combined-device concept is accepted and maximised for new users, it can be limiting for traditional dictation authors who rely on larger dictation volumes and strong secretarial support to produce letters and data. Dedicated input devices allow users to engage with the technology through slide switch or push-button activation – avoiding the need to navigate through an electronic menu to start your recording. This physical autonomy of creating a dictated report is synonymous with the longevity and tradition of dictation practices; supporting a voice-to-sound file-to-software-to-secretary process that is long established in companies and effective in producing formalised typed documents.
The recent use of mobile applications enables the user to alternate between working screens; opening new multi-tasking opportunities that will be welcomed by those working remotely, particularly within Healthcare, Law Firms and Commercial organisations. A dictation app provides a digitalised recording (instruction, report, memo) that can be sent from a Smartphone at any location or at any time – as long as the phone has a telephone connection to a secretary or administrator, meaning that the user can be output efficient throughout the day rather than having to wait until returning to the office to process dictated files.
However, let us consider bulk dictations. An Orthopaedic or Cardiologist Consultant may need to refer to 40+ patients during a clinical session and a mobile device and integrated Smartphone dictation apps will prove limiting; the multi-functionality of the unit could confuse files, interrupt dictations with unplanned phone calls and simply run-down the battery of the consultant’s phone.
There remains a firm place in the future for hardware input devices (with such options as portable recorders and USB desktop SpeechMikes) as an addition to the portfolio of cleverly designed mobile applications. Combined with other hardware offerings such as telephony, Bluetooth and specialist Pathology and Radiology programs, increasing new and seemingly diverse users can be introduced to dictation concepts through newer and widely-used technologies. This technological evolvement brings additional workflow features and commercial advantages; quickened document turnaround time through enhanced and accurate recording, the ability to tag, insert and edit data into a live dictation file (avoiding the need for scanning or manual inputting of data) and the integration of speech recognition innovations.
There is now a choice; the choice is based on user preference – a key factor in a society where devices, models and units of every size, colour, competence and cost exist. It is about having the right tool and the right configuration and setup for the individual user – and the availability of technology means that the user will ultimately make that choice themselves.