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Posted on November 09, 2018

Change speaks volumes for the NHS

There's a change afoot in the NHS when it comes to both the interest in and adoption of speech recognition. Voice Technologies is conducting numerous pilot trials with users already saying they would "kick and scream” if speech-to-text technology was taken away.

There are two main reasons for the current high level of interest in speech recognition in healthcare. First, greater awareness of speech as a user interface is being driven by consumer products such as Siri and Amazon Echo, as well as many new cars featuring the technology. There’s no doubt that the latest speech recognition engines, combined with the power of neural networks, have vastly improved recognition accuracy and ease of use compared to the early days a decade or so ago.

Second, from a healthcare perspective, the NHS faces a seemingly impossible challenge; to balance constantly rising patient numbers with greater demands versus dwindling financial and clinical resources. In these circumstances, banishing the inefficiencies that come with managing paper records is key to freeing up GPs and other clinicians from the administration burden that eats into the time they could be spending with patients.

This is where speech recognition is proving to be a valuable ally. Dictating directly into an Electronic Patient Record (EPR) is less time-consuming than writing notes or dictating into an audio file for later transcription. Medical documentation created using speech recognition cuts out many process stages and can help meet government targets for turnaround times and move closer toward the goal of a paperless NHS.

James McPherson, CEO of Voice Technologies, explains, “One of the key reasons Voice Technologies’ speech recognition projects are successful is that we help clients to be clear about the outcomes they want from deploying the technology. Is it financial? Is it to free up clinical resources? Is it to reduce secretarial costs? Once we know the answers to these questions, along with any baseline metrics for administration costs and document turnaround times, we can advise how to use speech recognition to deliver the results and ensure rapid Return on Investment (ROI).

“Looking ahead, cloud-based speech recognition solutions will significantly relieve pressure in many areas of the NHS by throwing the organisation an efficiency lifeline. It will help save money, reduce the reliance on paper and to create and manage the ever-growing volumes of patient records.”