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par Kristen Fischer, DOTmed News | February 02, 2012
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Dialogue on the changing face of physician dictation and transcription solutions


The days of hand-written notes from doctors are long-gone…even typing notes from patient visits are a thing of the past. Physicians are embracing high-tech dictation and transcription solutions to document patient consultations.

These digital solutions are part of the movement for hospitals and medical offices to meet electronic medical record and electronic health record requirements as part of the health care reform package. While hospitals and practices scramble to meet requirements and avoid government penalties, the way that patient data is documented is evolving. The newest trends let doctors dictate information on patient visits using computers, iPads—and even smartphones.

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Although there is no policy that mandates practices and hospitals use electronic dictation and transcription solutions, there are incentives for them to adopt digital technologies. The Obama Administration allotted approximately $40 billion to help facilities transition to electronic record keeping. Over the past few years, many facilities have cashed in on the financial incentives and deployed such systems that meet “meaningful use” standards, deciding to reap early benefits, taking the carrot instead of waiting for the stick in the form of monetary penalties that are on the horizon for those not meeting requirements.

Keith Belton, Senior Director of Nuance’s Healthcare Solutions Marketing, says it is safe to say that approximately 20 to 30 percent of medical practices are using a fully functional EMR.

“The notion of going from handwriting your notes to dictating and getting those notes into the EMR is really what we focus on,” he says. And there are a variety of ways to do so, depending on how involved the doctor wants to be with EMR technology.


Systems that work with doctors
The problem for many practices is that having to use an EMR system forces medical professionals to take on an IT role—a huge challenge for smaller practices that likely don’t have dedicated IT staff. Older systems require physicians to cycle through drop-down menus to record specifications about a patient visit, either by typing or speech recognition software, which makes it hard to tell the story of what’s happening with a patient, Belton noted.

“These doctors aren’t typists and they don’t want to sit there and click through screens,” Belton says.

Some doctors still prefer to type notes into a computer interface, while others prefer speaking into a device. But dictation is becoming the wave of the future, and there are generally two options that use speech recognition technology: Navigate your way by speaking through a speech-ready system and generate your own reports (better for more technologically-savvy docs), or dictate material and have it reviewed—not written from scratch—by a medical transcriptionist (ideal for old-school docs that do not want to deal with a computer at all).

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