Voice Recognition: An Increasingly Useful EHR Accessory

May 15, 2012

As the interest in and adoption of EHRs grows, so does the market for new and improved speech-recognition products for time-pressed physicians.

Voice recognition has been around for a long time -and it’s come a long way. Thanks to improvements in accuracy (better microphone quality and response to vocal commands), physicians can now navigate EHR fields without lifting a finger.

And as the interest in and adoption of EHRs grows, physicians will continue to see an evolution in voice products that are tailor-made for EHRs.

Our most recent 2012 technology survey reveals the number of practices whose physicians are using some kind of voice recognition/dictation product is gaining slowly: Out of more than 1,300 physicians, practice managers, and other healthcare workers who answered our 2012 Technology Survey in the first quarter of this year, 24 percent said they used a voice-recognition product (up from 23 percent the previous year).

But now that many vendors are offering cloud-based voice recognition and dictation services, as well as voice-recognition apps for mobile platforms (such as Apple’s iOS, the operating system for iPad), we wouldn’t be surprised if that number jumped a bit more before the year is out.

It’s easy to see the why market for voice recognition is growing: Many physicians talk faster than they type, and many who relied on expensive transcription services are looking for ways to cut costs.

“Most docs don’t type 80 words per minute,” says Mike Raymer, senior vice president of solutions management for M*Modal, a provider of clinical documentation and speech-understanding services, which recently unveiled a new line of cloud-based tools that decipher clinical speech and fuse what a doctor says with his or her EHR. The tools may be accessed at any workstation environment (including mobile), so providers can update patient notes and populate EHR templates. “If you just sat and listened to how doctors dictate today, it is very rapidly speaking, and it’s faster than you can type, actually.”

And even those who do type may find today’s speech understanding programs to be more convenient when it comes to navigating their EHRs. Many fast-typing physicians or those prefer mobile interfaces with touchscreen keyboards (which slow down even the fastest typers), are looking for easy ways to save time with inputting important information.

“Whether it’s typing or filling out forms, we’ve never been able to make the physician as efficient in telling the patient’s story as they can be by talking,” says Raymer. “They can speak it much faster than they can type it in.”

We want to hear from you. Is your practice using some kind of voice recognition product? What has the experience been like?