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Posted on February 15, 2019

Pathology department frees-up time for pathologists and secretaries using speech recognition


To streamline both the reporting process and the upload of documents to a specialist pathology clinical system.


Speech recognition software, together with Voice Technologies’ integration know-how, improves workflow and saves time.


  • Clinicians have fewer correction iterations, freeing-up time for other work
  • Secretaries spend less time on lengthy reports
  • Improvements across the department feed through into other workflows.
“The speech recognition system is easy to use, installation was fast and we were supported throughout by Voice Technologies.”
Debbi McEwan, Pathology Manager, NHS Ayrshire & Arran


More than 9,000 staff work in NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s hospitals, with two University hospitals at Ayr and Crosshouse (near Kilmarnock), Ayrshire Central Hospital in Irvine, and Biggart Hospital in Prestwick, and five community hospitals across the region.

Until 2018, the pathology team produced reports by recording digital dictations via WinScribe Author which were sent to the secretarial team for transcription. Once typed, documents were uploaded to the pathology department’s clinical systems. There was no direct integration with CliniSys, the clinical system used by the pathologists.

A significant amount of time was being spent by secretarial resources on typing up lengthy reports and by pathologists on corrections finished documents needed to be uploaded to existing applications, adding to turnaround time.

It was felt that there was scope for improvement to the workflow and the service approached Voice Technologies as we already provided WinScribe, and feedback on our services from other pathology departments was positive.

Streamlining the process

Our project team upgraded the pathologists’ digital dictation devices, supplying Philips SpeechMike Premium handheld digital dictation devices which have features specifically designed for the healthcare sector such as a free floating, decoupled microphone for precise recording, integrated pop filter for perfect quality, 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 Practice. 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 pathology team. The pathologists in the team can access their speech profile at any PC that has Dragon installed.

A key driver of the deployment was the need to integrate with existing clinical systems, including CliniSys. Voice Technologies’ know-how in integrating NHS systems and applications made this process quick and easy, allowing speech recognition to take place in a number of different applications. Users can not only dictate clinical information for reports, but also for everyday tasks such as emails.

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. The system delivered immediate improvements:

  • Frees-up time for pathologists as high recognition rate reduces the number of corrections
  • Frees-up time for secretaries as lengthy reports no longer need to be manually typed
  • Seamless integration – software integration with specialist apps, e.g. CliniSys, and standard apps e.g. Microsoft Outlook® allowing speech recognition to speed up numerous tasks from reports to emails.