Using voice recognition to communicate the "prose" of the patient's story is a lot easier than using templates, says David Danhauer, MD system vice president and CMIO at Owensboro Health, which is based in Owensboro, Ky. A former practicing pediatrician, Danhauer has a few EHR deployments and 12 years using voice recognition under his belt.
In addition to clicking check boxes in the EHR, Danhauer says physicians also need to document the patient's chief complaint, review of systems, and diagnosis, in addition to a myriad of other things.
"My goal is to get the most accurate, up-to-date, patient-specific information into our notes. I want our providers to have the best quality notes. Every provider has different talents and gifts; some are phenomenal typists, whereas there are others who can't even use a computer….the only way they can [document patient care] is with dictation," he says.
He finds what works best is providing physicians with choice: Approximately 25 percent of the physicians on his team use voice recognition to document patient care in the EHR. The remainder use dictation, templates, or typing —or a combination of those means and voice recognition. Physicians who use voice recognition update the patient record in real time, whereas physicians using the other means to update the EHR can expect a turnaround of two hours or less, says Danhauer.
He highlights two aspects of voice recognition that help him and the physicians on his team: One, the software's just much better than it once was; a physician can generally start using voice recognition and expect 95 percent accuracy, he says. Two, physicians' voice files — which they train using their voice and making corrections in real time to the text in the EHR — are now stored in the cloud. What that means is his physicians can access the same voice files whether they're documenting in the EHR during a patient visit or on their mobile phone, adds Danhauer.
Providing voice recognition can also help with preventing physician burnout, says Kristen Heffernan, general manager of Henry Schein Medical Systems. Physicians are frustrated because they're not able to have enough face time with patients, she says, citing a recent American Medical Association study on physicians' adoption of digital health tools; instead, they're spending too much time doing data entry and not seeing as many patients. Or they're spending time doing data entry after the work day.
Still, training physicians to use voice recognition software can be a challenge, she says. It can be difficult to hold on to the attention of a physician for a training that takes anywhere from one to three hours. What helps is including a non-physician in the training who can help physicians in real-time when they're having trouble using voice recognition in the EHR, adds Heffernan.