Digital Dictation or Speech Recognition?

Digital Dictation or Speech Recognition? Let’s first take a look at the terminology. As always, Wikipedia clears up any potential confusion with one of those efficient, 3-line definitions: “Digital dictation is different from Speech Recognition where audio is analyzed by a computer using speech algorithms in an attempt to automatically transcribe the document. With digital dictation the process of converting digital audio to text is done via a typist using a digital transcription software application (…)”

But this doesn’t tell us which one should be preferred to the other (Wikipedia is not that powerful…yet). The truth is, both technologies work closely together when implemented in a healthcare environment, mainly because a speech recognition engine is not worth much without the workflow automation features brought in by the digital dictation system (DDS) it typically integrates within. In a white paper dedicated to speech recognition technology for healthcare, expert Dr. Bob Yacovitch explains how the DDS is the glue that holds everything else:

The first aspect is workflow automation. “A stand-alone speech recognition solution on an individual PC does not bring the expected gains in productivity and efficiency. Speech recognition needs to be approached as part of a whole document creation platform. Real benefits only come by implementing a digital dictation workflow solution with integrated speech recognition, which takes into account the entire document creation process and not simply the transcription of a dictation. The digital dictation workflow system is the central framework that supports everything else, from voice control to workflow management and it is what the physician will be interacting with on a day-to-day basis. The difference resides in the system’s new ability to produce a “recognized text” together with the voice file. This draft report simply needs to be corrected as opposed to being fully transcribed.”

The DDS thereby seems to be the most important ingredient in the mix; giant steps can already be achieved with it, provided high-level routing management is offered. Speech recognition can turn document creation from “fast” into “light speed,” though it is not necessarily justified for all environments. Factors such as workflow complexity and the number of dictating authors play a key role in the overall ROI (return on investment), hence the need to investigate what can be achieved in terms of workflow management with a single DDS before even considering the speech recognition path.

The other keyword is integration. It is the DDS that integrates with the rest of the organization’s IT infrastructure, not the spech recognition engine, and “optimal accuracy and reliability of medical data can only be achieved in a fully integrated IT environment,” insists Yacovitch.

Download the Speech Recognition for Healthcare White Paper

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