Why is Speech Recognition Seeing a Sudden Spike During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

At this unfortunate time in human history, virtual care platforms, i.e., telehealth that allows patients to meet doctors or healthcare consultants via phone or video chat, seem to be tailor-made for this situation.

Telemedicine or Digital Health is the route to go when patients’ convenience is the need of the hour. In cases when patients are away in terms of distance or are constantly traveling, telehealth or digital medicine is most effective. However, the current COVID-19 crisis makes virtual care solutions like telehealth indispensable across the world.

Telehealth and Digital Medicine are tools that have the immense ability to flatten the curve and help in wise & effective utilization of medical staff and medical equipment. With Telehealth and Digital Medicine playing such an essential role in our fight against the COVID-19 virus, we should ensure that these tools function seamlessly without any interruption. This is where voice to text solutions and text analytics solutions come into play and accentuate the advantages of telemedicine and digital health.

Voice recognition with respect to EMR (Electronic Medical Records) has multiple uses. These uses may range from medical history data aggregation to aid in clinical research or to diagnose and treat patients. Either way, accuracy is extremely critical. Many doctors and physicians still use handwritten chart notes even though thee acceptability rate is becoming lower and lower.

The role of a skilled medical transcriptionist is declining by the day as transcription documentation requires a lot of manual work, and more hospitals are gravitating towards a digital system, right from transcription (voice to text) to record-keeping (data lake or data warehouse). The coming decade will see a decline in available jobs for medical transcriptionists.

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Voice to text solutions are the need of the hour during this phase of the COVID-19 outbreak we are going through. Speech to text converting software help improve internal efficiencies for organizations in the healthcare industry.

We are going to discuss four ways as to how voice recognition features help the healthcare industry during this tough time:

Turnaround Delays Reduced

When handwritten copies of records for internal use or external use are maintained, delays of 24 hours or more can be expected to update it on the system. At a time like this, when hospitals are filled with patients and doctors are treating patients over telephone calls, delays are not your best friend.

When voice to text conversion software’s are in place, the software records all information from the telephone call, and it is updated in the EMR of the patient. This ensures that the patients’ record is ready to share almost immediately, meaning turnaround time here becomes almost close to nil. This also allows the doctors to move on to the next call without having to worry about whether the information has been written down or not. This also helps reduce wait time tremendously.

Other advantages of voice recognition software’s are that lab results can be obtained in a jiffy, latest and updated EMRs are available in case of coordinated care, and patient prescriptions are available readily in the pharmacies.

Addressing the Call Backlog

The COVID-19 has forced the healthcare industry to become an all hands on deck industry. In hospitals, the doctors, nurses, and medical personnel are so busy with treating patients who have contracted the virus, that very few of them are available to tend to the phones.

Telemedicine is what most of the population is resorting to as nobody wants to make the trip to a hospital. With limited doctors manning the phones and a barrage of phone calls coming in, how do you keep track of the concerns and how do you reply to all of them? Voice recognition software comes to the rescue yet again.

The software converts the voice recording of the patient into text and displays it to the doctor along with the EMR. The doctor then keys in the necessary prescription and updates the EMR. The EMR is accessible to the patients 24/7, and they have the doctor’s diagnosis and necessary prescriptions available in a short span of time. This has allowed an 88% coverage of all calls made to hospitals.

Ensuring Accuracy and Error Reduction

The case of a doctor’s handwriting is always something that confuses us. Handwritten notes by doctors may confuse the patients and pharmacies alike. In the case of telemedicine, all details regarding prescriptions, discharge notes etc are recorded and converted into text. This eliminates the process of having to call the doctor to clarify what was written.

In order to keep the accuracy maintained, using a transcriptionist to periodically review the records that were updated by the software will ensure 100% accuracy and will help reduce errors.

Using Readymade Templates

There are a few challenges that you encounter with voice recognition. The system needs training in order to pick up or learn the language model and terminology. Initially, efficiency may be a little low as the system needs to learn new vocabulary and mistakes need to be corrected as they happen to sharpen the system.

The silver lining to this initial speed bump is that labs, physicians, and healthcare personnel can use templates that are readily available and customizable to speed up documentation. These templates allow the speaker to move from one field to another using voice commands. This is much faster than the transcription method.

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To Summarize:

Speech recognition tools are supremely effective in improving operational efficiency and reducing unnecessary overheads. This is exactly what the healthcare industry needs during a time where we are affected by such a pandemic. The learning curve is definitely there; however, the best results are witnessed once the entire organization is on board and embrace speech recognition wholeheartedly. It is at a time, such as this, that the healthcare industry has understood the advantage that speech to text conversion software offers to telemedicine and digital health.

Author: Abhimanyu Sundar
Abhimanyu is a sportsman, an avid reader with a massive interest in sports. He is passionate about digital marketing and loves discussions about Big Data.