Speech Recognition: Just What the Doctor Ordered

    Killer apps come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s a new one: A good number of doctors and medical professionals don’t like typing into mobile computer devices. That, combined with the new world of electronic medical records and electronic health records (EMR and EHR) and the peripatetic nature of medical work, makes medicine a killer app for speech recognition.

    InformationWeek reports on research by KLAS Research, describing the considerable detail the research went into on what categories and approaches to speech recognition are most popular. The overriding reality is that there are several ways in which speech recognition helps health care professionals and, presumably, their patients, and a deep relationship is developing. The story quoted KLAS analyst Ben Brown on why physicians like speech recognition and the focus on electronic records:

    Brown also noted that some physicians don’t want to document in EHRs by pointing and clicking or typing, so they use speech recognition or some combination of methods. Brown made this observation during a discussion of his report on how healthcare providers perceive the leading speech recognition solutions. In the past, these solutions have cut time and costs for transcription and imaging documentation. Now, the report noted, “the hottest steam” in the market is around EMRs/EHRs.

    Nuance, the top banana in the speech recognition business, released its own research this week suggesting the popularity of virtual assistants among medical professionals. Nuance is a speech recognition company, so it stands to reason that those virtual assistants are chatting with the doctors. The research found that 80 percent of doctors surveyed said that virtual assistants will drastically change their interactions with and use of EHR during the next five years.

    The release highlighted the ways in which the doctors think virtual assistants can help. The top roles are to enable more accurate and timely information (65 percent said it was the top role), aid in coordinating care (75 expect this outcome), and enfranchising patients (80 percent see this as a potential benefit).

    Nuance is far from the only company trying to ride the speech recognition/health care wave. M*Modal, which seems to be a very big player within the medical field, describes itself as a clinical documentation and “speech understanding” provider. The firm says that that it is working with Intermountain Healthcare to develop mobile technology for speech-enabled Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE). The technology will enable conversational ordering of medication and other functions for Apple iOS devices.

    This is good news on two levels for voice recognition. Most obviously, health care in general and EMR and EHR specifically are promising businesses. On a bit more subtle level, health care requires elegant, seamless and above all reliable platforms. Those solutions almost certainly can be repurposed for what often will be less demanding roles in the consumer and business worlds. In other words, the speech recognition industry is doing the heavy lifting now. 

    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.

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