by Dean Tullis
As speech recognition becomes more popular because of physician burnout (as found in a study by the American Medical Association) EMR companies are partnering with speech recognition vendors and embedding speech solutions into their programs. These EMR companies are now pushing hard to convince you that you need an embedded product to have the best experience. I'm here to tell you that you don't.
With embedded speech recognition solutions, large vendors often allow the EMR company to sell, install, and train their products with minimal experience and insufficient support. It's another way to make money, but even though they're sometimes big names, they're rarely as highly rated as other speech solutions by KLAS, which is all about the customer experience.
If you're looking for a speech recognition product that will save your time and headaches, here are some factors you should consider.
You can use a speech recognition solution in any program; EMR, clinical email, Microsoft Word, etc. Anywhere you can place the cursor and type, you can use speech recognition.
EMRs typically have DOT COM commands that the speech vendor could utilize to automate the workflow, but even solutions that are not embedded can take advantage of that capability.
For example, physicians expect to be able to use speech recognition in multiple clinical systems such as the EMR at their office or the hospital, wherever they practice. But an embedded program will likely not be supported in any other EMR the doctor may end up using.
Embedded programs also have other workflow limitations, unlike stand-along speech recognition solutions that can often do more for your doctors.
One of the most significant areas that speech recognition can help a physician is duplicating multiple mouse clicks or key commands to move throughout the EMR with just one voice command. It's a huge timesaver by virtually eliminating repetitive mouse and keyboard clicks for the physician when dictating in different areas of the EMR.
Sure, we expect speech recognition to work well no matter what product we buy, but putting words on a screen is not the only factor. The ability to select words or a combination of words in your dictation with your voice for correction is another significant aspect of a good speech recognition product. For example, doctors don't have to use a mouse to highlight words or phrases they wish to change. Instead, they can highlight them and simply dictate over them, once again saving lots of time.
Training, Service, and Support
When you purchase a speech recognition product that's embedded in an EMR, it's unlikely that the EMR vendor will help you create the report templates, repetitive paragraphs (macros), add referring physician names, or other elements unique to your organization. You also won't get all the voice navigation each physician will need to succeed without a charge. Without help to build all these time-saving tools, you're not really getting the full benefit of a speech recognition solution. Additionally, you will likely be charged anytime you request help or need a question answered, from an issue with the microphone to a network problem.
Some speech recognition vendors have an all-inclusive plan for the price you pay per month or per year, including all services that you may need to be successful.
Finally, make sure you get a vendor that can provide the service to meet your staff's needs. Can you call them and talk to a live person? Are they available to engage right when you have a problem with a physician? Are they willing to create personalized shortcuts, templates or provide additional training without charging you extra? Do they have a speech success program to regularly evaluate how your users can utilize the platform more effectively?.
If you're looking for ways to avoid burnout and save time and energy, speech recognition may be right for you. But before you buy, make sure the platform you choose can perform what you need.