Guide: Medical speech recognition and natural language processing

Medical speech recognition and natural language processing have reached all corners of the health IT industry, from providers to patients. Speech recognition has saved practices time and paper by reducing the number of charts required for each patient, while giving doctors another way to record and transmit more accurate patient notes.

Healthcare organizations have also used medical speech recognition as a way to reorganize business functions, like streamlining their billing process and converting patient information into billing codes.

Patients have also been a target of medical speech recognition technology vendors. Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak suggested that future medical devices may be able to "hear" a patient's description of their condition and the device would be able to provide a better plan of care than a doctor. Ordering medication and scheduling appointments are other future functions that may be eased through the use of voice recognition. Though digital assistants, like Siri, have grown in popularity, they've yet to take on anything beyond basic healthcare functions.

Table of contents:

Clinical uses of speech recognition

Medical speech recognition technology has a number of uses for care in a clinical setting. Doctors can use their voice to extract and input patient data into their EHR systems, saving them from having to manually record data into the system. Learn how voice recognition allows doctors to record more thorough and accurate patient notes. And, explore how speech technology has become a more efficient way to match electronic patient information to the proper ICD-10 billing codes.

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Speech recognition as an organizational tool

Speech recognition tools can be a timesaver outside of a clinical setting. They can prove valuable in converting EHR information into billing codes. Speech technology, combined with EHR systems, also reduces the number of paper records for some facilities and decreases the time spent on individual patient notes and records. Organizations should note that they will only see significant benefits with medical speech recognition tools if they educate employees prior to implementing any new technology.

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Patient-facing medical speech recognition technology

Speech recognition technology aimed at patients will play a role in the future of healthcare, even if the extent of the role is yet undetermined. Applications like Siri can be used to access health information online, and patients have benefitted from doctors' use of speech recognition to interact with their electronic health records.

Microsoft's Kinect is a gaming accessory that allows the user to be the controller. Its videoconferencing capabilities have led to exploring it as a low-cost replacement for facilities' telemedicine systems. Siri, Kinect and other patient-friendly devices may become more common as care providers look to improve efficiency through patient education and engagement.

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