The number of patients seeking care is on the rise, mainly due to the aging U.S. population and overall population growth. Clinicians are also seeing more patients of all ages with multiple comorbidities. These trends, along with staffing shortages, have made managing the electronic health record (EHR) documentation a major challenge, leading to clinician burnout and less time for patient care. Speech recognition (SR) technology along with medical transcription services can play a key role in easing EHR documentation challenges and improve acute care delivery.
Growing Demand for Acute Care
The demand for acute care will increase along with the rise in the aging population. Acute care refers to the immediate but short-term treatment provided to a patient to address a severe event brought upon by a condition, trauma, or during recovery from surgery. Acute care is normally provided in a hospital setting by clinicians experienced in diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions, symptoms, and injuries.
According to a JAMA Internal Medicine study published in 2018, visits to acute care facilities, such as urgent care centers, grew by 140% during 2008 to 2015. New acute care options that have emerged over the past two decades include urgent care centers, retail clinics, and telemedicine.
Role of Speech Recognition in Acute Care Delivery
Dictation applications help physicians and nurses to capture and record patient diagnoses and treatment notes. SR software transcribes words as they are spoken in real-time and can ease documentation challenges for clinicians with heavy workloads. Digital speech recognition has become more prevalent in acute care settings due to certain reasons:
- Captures complex patient encounters in real-time: Clinicians in acute care facilities need a variety of skills and need many different types of equipment as they see patients with different types of medical issues (www.carevoyance.com). For instance, a patient presenting with unexplained abdominal pain will need different care and tests from a patient presenting with a leg fracture. Automated dictation tools will help physicians capture encounters as and when they happen.
- Timely documentation: Acute care settings treat immediate medical emergencies of all types. In such situations, timely completion of charting is critical if the chart is to be accurate. Speech recognition can improve speed and accuracy of acute emergency medical service documentation.
- Significant time savings: EHR documentation using SR software takes less time to complete than typing. According to a study published by Healthcare Management in January 2022, SR software took just 5.11 minutes to complete the medical form, compared to 8.9 minutes typing.
- Reduces clinician burnout: Instead of spending longer hours to complete medical documentation, SR applications allow clinicians create EHR documentation using only their voice.
- Supports acute care telemedicine: In telehealth urgent care delivery, emergency care teams connect with remote acute care professionals (e.g., cardiac or trauma surgeons, vascular neurologists, intensivists) for diagnostic and treatment support. This promotes fast care delivery by improving access to care and patient outcomes.
Speech recognition solutions improve workflow by helping clinicians automate their documentation tasks making them more efficient and productive. It also helps acute care providers to deal with staffing shortages. Importantly, it allows them interact more effectively with their patients.
Artificial intelligence (AI) powered tools with voice recognition go beyond just improving patient care documentation by providing benefits such as:
- Real-time evaluation of dictated content to help reduce errors and improve accuracy
- Mining of key data elements from voice and entering them in specific areas within the HER
- Securely capturing and documenting relevant information as it occurs during the conversation
- Integrating with any EHR system for data capture
- Enabling data capture from mobile devices
- Enhanced chart completion compliance
According to a Healthcare IT News report, patient response to ambient technologies is favorable as it allows them to interact more closely with their provider, a relationship which was lost because of overcoming burdensome EHR documentation requirements. However, voice-enabled applications will have to overcome data privacy concerns and educate patients about ambient technologies.
Continuing Relevance of Medical Transcription Services
Even with the widespread adoption of electronic health records and speech recognition technology in acute care settings, the services provided by medical transcription companies continues to be important for error-free EHR documentation.
SR-generated documents tend to have errors. A 2018 study that analyzed the quality of SR-assisted documentation found that seven in 100 words in SR-generated documents had errors. Mistakes created by the SR tool can be very difficult to identify. That’s why experts recommend back-end SR, which involves medical transcription services.
In contrast to front-end SR which takes place real-time, back-end SR involves recording the dictated words and then converting the recording into text. In this scenario, the draft document and recording created by the SR software is sent to a medical transcriptionist for review to ensure accuracy. Leading service providers have teams trained to provide documentation for various specialties, such as cardiology and neurology transcription services. The quality assurance provided by experienced medical transcriptionists can go a long way in improving the quality of SR-generated patient records.