Speech recognition improves patient flow in emergency department

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is delivering a paperless emergency department by integrating a speech recognition solution from Nuance with their EMIS Health urgent and emergency system, Symphony.

At the James Cook Hospital major trauma centre, around 350 patients are seen in the emergency department (ED) per day. With 40% of patients seen by the ‘see and treat’ team – around 20 per hour – the department needs to work as efficiently as possible. That means being able to easily triage and assess patients while having timely access to information – requirements that are essential for the smooth running of the whole of the ED. These needs, coupled with the desire to be as paperless as possible, led South Tees to integrate voice recognition with their emergency care system.

“Dictaphone and audio typist would result in transcription errors and omissions and delay information getting into the system”

Andrew Adair, consultant

“Previously we would use a Dictaphone and audio typists would then enter the details into the system,” mentions Andrew Adair, consultant at South Tees. “However, this would result in some transcription errors and omissions – and delay information getting into the system – meaning we would have a delay in getting the right patient information at the right time. We chose a voice recognition system that would give clinicians control over their own notes and ensure information was instantly available within Symphony.”

“The speed of transcription and entering information has been improved compared to our previous process.”

Andrew Adair, consultant

Paperless patient flow

The Dragon Medical Edition voice recognition solution has allowed South Tees to become paperless when it comes to taking patient notes. And since notes are immediately available in Symphony, the patient flow process within the ‘see and treat’ team has been accelerated. The ability to use templates and commands has also given them the ability to quickly enter information into the system. As Andrew comments, “the speed of transcription and entering information has been improved compared to our previous process.”

Training is key

Essential to effective use of a voice recognition system is making sure staff are trained, Andrew advises. As he mentions, “we do sometimes have issues with accuracy of the dictation – however, with more training and use of the system, this can only improve the accuracy going forward. We also need to be vigilant in ensuring notes are being saved and closed after dictation so information is recorded effectively.”

As a major trauma unit that needs to assess and treat patients quickly, the ‘see and treat’ team are seeing a much smoother process which is helping to alleviate some of the pressures of a demanding emergency department.