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Posted on June 20, 2018

Clinical time doubled by Community Psychiatric Nurse team using speech recognition technology


To reduce the time Community Psychiatric Nurses (CPNs) spend on administration and increase the time dedicated to patients.


Speech recognition software with high quality digital dictation hardware for office and remote working increases time available for patient consultations.


  • CPNs have double the time available to spend with patients
  • Patient data is more secure
  • Improved staff morale.
“Our new speech recognition system has made a significant difference in the way we work and will continue to help us improve efficiency over time.”
Mandy Edwards, Community Mental Health Nurse, East Renfrewshire Council, Health & Social Care


The Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) team, part of East Renfrewshire’s Health & Social Care department, provides mental health services to the local older adult population.

Until 2018, the CPN team took pen and paper notes during clinical sessions. With no business support resources to call on, the team typed up their own documents and emails when they returned to their office and passed the files to the business support team for printing. Limited shared business support resources led to delays in issuing documents of up to six weeks.

A significant amount of time, approximately 50% of the working week, was spent by CPNs on administration, with each patient assessment taking up to three hours to complete. This reduced the time available to spend with patients.

The situation was unsatisfactory in terms of productivity and patient service. The CPN team took the opportunity offered by a pilot study via the Fit For The Future (FFTF) Change Programme to trial speech recognition as a way of reducing the administration burden.

Voice Technologies was recommended to the Health & Social Care department by the Council’s Legal & Democratic Service, with whom we were already working.

Perfectly designed

Our project team replaced the CPN’s manual system with Philips SpeechMike Pro handheld digital dictation devices which have features specifically designed for the healthcare sector such as a free floating, decoupled microphone for precise recording, antimicrobial housing and buttons and a trackball for integrated mouse function.

Combined with these user-friendly devices, we installed speech recognition software – Dragon Naturally Speaking Medical Edition. As well as containing medical terminology, it allows users to create custom word lists and voice commands. Significant time is saved by speaking a simple command to generate the full text of a standard reply, a signature block, or other boilerplates. Dragon is also learning vocabulary and accents specific to the CPN team.

Our project team installed the hardware and software, provided full training and we also provide ongoing support to ensure the system continues to run smoothly.

Tangible benefits

After a successful pilot, the system was fully rolled out in Spring 2018. Immediate benefits were apparent to the team:

  • Faster turnaround – case recording of patient information following a CPN visit has reduced from up to six weeks to only 10 days.
  • Doubled clinical time – the team now spends the majority of the week with patients. It is anticipated that this will further increase with the addition of a case recording system.
  • Seamless integration – the new system integrates with EMIS Web (electronic patient records) and Microsoft Outlook®, saving time and enabling rapid sharing of documents.
  • Remote working – team members can use the system from any location which further improves productivity and reduces turnaround time.
  • Improved confidentiality – the CPN team completes all administration, proof reads documents and refers them directly to most appropriate service, eliminating the need to send documents to business support.
  • Higher morale – the simplicity of the process, ease of use of the system and the increase in time available for seeing patients have resulted in improved staff morale.