Interior Health adds voice recognition technology

New voice technology being installed at KBRH will insure patients’ voices are heard when dealing with their doctors.

Everyone needs to be heard.

New voice technology being installed at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital this month will insure patients’ voices are heard when dealing with their doctors.

Called voice recognition, new software installed by Interior Health translates spoken words into text for reports, and will result in both cost savings and quicker report turnaround times.

“This technology will allow Interior Health to meet the demand for transcription services, while taking advantage of technology that will result in improved turnaround time for vital patient care information,” said Interior Health board chair Norman Embree in a release.

Voice recognition technology allows patient information to be available at different points of care quicker and more efficiently.

“If a complicated trauma patient was seen and initially resuscitated at Kootenay Boundary Hospital, and then transferred to one of our tertiary care trauma centres, voice recognition would enable the original emergency department physician’s initial critical care summary to be available to the accepting trauma doctor much more quickly,” said Dr. Michael Ertel, medical director for emergency services and critical care transport advisor for Interior Health.

The technology will become important in cases when time is narrow and multiple care providers are involved, said Interior Health chief information officer Mal Griffin, such as in the case of trauma patients or those who are critically ill.

With the technology coming on board across the entire health region, Griffin felt they could achieve over $1 million in savings and better turnaround time.

Not much will change when the technology hits the ground, with physicians still dictating notes. But, instead of handing the file over to a transcriber who types up the report and then files it—varying from 24-72 hours—with voice recognition technology that time is expected to improve by 30 per cent.

Under the new technology, a transcriber still reviews the automatically produced text file, edits it if required, and saves the document to the patient’s electronic medical record. Griffin said quality measures are built in and, if required, a transcriber will listen to the original audio file, transcribe and save the document.

The technology also has the capacity to better recognize the particular physician’s voice and speech patterns, thus lessening the need for future editing.

Interior Health implemented voice recognition technology to support physicians in diagnostic imaging in spring 2011, and will reach KBRH this month, as well as Nelson’s Kootenay Lake Hospital.