Will Speech Recognition Program Ease EHR Pain?

Nuance has introduced a medical speech recognition tool for small offices that should reduce transcription costs and make it easier to enter data into an EHR.
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As small medical practices begin implementing electronic health records, several are turning to Nuance Communications, Inc. to make the transition less painful. Last week, the vendor unveiled its Dragon Medical Practice Edition, which it says will help physicians at small practices dictate medical notes directly into any electronic health record (EHR) with increased accuracy.

The Dragon Medical Practice Edition, which is available for purchase by practices of no more than 24 physicians, is Nuance’s latest attempt to capture more market share among small medical practices that make up an estimated 40% of the total U.S. physician population.

To lure small practices, Nuance is making its latest edition available at around $1,600 per clinician. That’s less than its Dragon Medical Network Edition for practices with 25 or more doctors that sells for around $2,200 per clinician. Each Dragon Medical product is licensed on a per-user basis.

The company says the latest version is 15% more accurate than previous Dragon Medical releases, has smarter configuration features that take advantage of improvements in hardware, and routinely runs in multiple-threads when multi-core hardware is identified. Additionally, the new version alerts the user and offers advice when poor audio input caused by incorrect microphone connection or background noise is detected.

According to Keith Belton, senior director, Nuance Healthcare, small physician practices demand high accuracy, an easy to use and understand interface, compatibility with their EHR of choice and affordability.

"Small physician practices want to be ensured a three to six month return on investment. Voice recognition can help small physician practices overcome their challenges by easing the pain associated with EHRs," Belton said during an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare.

Focusing more fully on patient care is one reason Dr. Andrew Fireman has been using Nuance’s medical speech recognition software for the last four years. Fireman, who is one of 17 physicians at AMS Cardiology, based in Abington, Pa., decided to use Dragon Medical the day his practice installed their EHR system from eClinicalWorks.

"I was the physician champion behind the EHR and on my first day using it, I was pointing and clicking my way through and I said this is crazy I can’t do this, I'll never be able to see patients," Fireman said in an interview.

As Fireman recalls, one of the eClinicalWorks representatives suggested using Dragon Medical, and 20 licenses of the software were installed the next day.

Since then, Fireman said using the technology has helped him enter notes into his EHR with accuracy and speed. As a result, he no longer uses a medical transcription service that used to transcribe his dictated notes and would return those notes three to five days later.

"Now the information is instantaneous. If one of my patients has to have a procedure within 24 to 48 hours, I complete their notes in the EHR and by the time I send the patient down to the person who will schedule the procedure they already have legible documentation of what needs to be done, which helps them converse with hospitals and insurance companies," said Fireman.

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