Voice recognition technology has come a long way, but for some physicians, transcription still needs to be part of the package.
Voice recognition technology has come a long way. And although it has growing fans among physicians in all healthcare settings, with the onset of EHRs, the need for transcription services has not fizzled (though saving money on transcription services is the selling point of voice recognition services for some doctors).
Gynecological oncologist Edward C. Grendys, Jr., with Florida Gynecologic Oncology, has spent much of his medical career dictating his patient notes into a recorder, and then shipping them off to a transcriptionist. Outsourcing the transcribing allows him to spend more time with patients, though he admits the process is a bit cumbersome.
"We used the Dictaphone to tape, that tape was couriered to our transcription center, we were paying 15 cents a line, those tapes were transcribed, they were then e-mailed back to us via word files," Grendys told Physicians Practice. "My secretary then basically printed out the note, the note was proofread by us, they were handed back to my secretary who then had to type and print and mail notes … as I became annoyed with that system, I started to look around, and basically was looking at an e-fax program. But as it turns out, when you look at the legalities of e-fax, there becomes a lot of HIPAA-compliance-related problems."
But recently, the doctor started using a "smarter" integrated dictation and transcription service - Nuance's Clinic 360 - that cuts down on the manual shipping-and-receiving process of notes and audio files. And the savings in time and money is pretty substantial.
Grendys estimates his practice has saved the cost of one fulltime secretary per week. Transcription services are also less expensive. According to some research, traditional dictation and transcription services can easily exceed $12,000 a year per physician, not including a lengthy turnaround time.
"We still see people handwriting notes that get faxed to us that are illegible," said Grendys, adding that oftentimes physicians who use just basic voice recognition technologies end up having to do a lot of cutting and pasting. "I think you are going to see fewer physicians typing. All the literature out there says there's a 30 percent decrease of productivity with EHRs."
Grendys notes that physicians such as oncologists have much higher documentation needs and, as a result, have been adversely affected as part of the transition to EHRs.
"Their mobile application and transcription service gives me the freedom to document, edit and electronically sign my patient encounters using my mobile device or PC, and all without falling behind on my patient schedule.”