Here is a rather fascinating interview of Dr. Nick van Terheyden, Chief Medical Officer for Philips Speech Recognition Systems, on the challenges facing healthcare today and the role of speech recognition, EHR and thin-client technologies in the fail-safe delivery of high quality care. Far beyond the technical aspects, Dr. van Terheyden makes us take a realistic look at healthcare today and think about what tomorrow’s hospital should look like. Here’s a sneak peak:
Douglas Brown: What does an industrial grade system deliver to the software industry that on that off-the-shelf product doesn’t?
Nick van Terheyden: You want to optimize the workflow and throughput for an entire organization. An off-the-shelf product that you install on a single desktop isn’t scaled or designed to actually deliver that. It is designed for the individual user. As soon as you start to move across an organization and need to transfer your profiles, you start to run into trouble.
We’ve focused on the professional market right from the very beginning, constantly delivering on those changing market requirements, specifically in healthcare. The breakthrough of the Citrix of application delivery infrastructure has been one of these events that triggered advances for speech recognition technology. And the other one that’s driven a lot of change is the Electronic Health Record – EHR or EMR as it’s referred to, which is aimed at improving availability and accessibility of medical information. That’s really a key component of safer, more value-added care, which is suffering in the US setting. One of the numbers that’s bandaged around fairly frequently from the Institute of Medicine report from some years ago, is the 98,000 medical errors that occur killing patients in the US every year. If you equate that to the airline industry, that’s approximately one aircraft crashing with all people on board every day.
So anything that we can do to enhance the delivery of quality information to our clinicians is going to be a key factor in that. And enhancing the EHR with the seamless integration of speech recognition, speech being the most natural form of communications, brings some significant benefits. Specifically, we’re going to bring that information to be instantly available to all the members of the team. Medicine used to be an individual specialty, where one physician treated patients. Now it’s a team approach. (…) We’ve got multiple clinicians, and not just physicians, delivering care and the communication of that data to all of the team members as quickly as possible and as accurately as possible is a key factor in delivering high quality care. Much of the errors that occur actually occur in the hand off of that information.
…Users who have access to dictation devices – either handheld devices or even PCs – with thin-client technology are more mobile and therefore can be more efficient in the delivery of that care.
…One of the failings of speech recognition historically has been the desire to take what we do with the mouse and the keyboard and try to automate that using voice. And that’s really not the optimal way to voice enable an application.