On average, the number of patients a doctor sees a day is about 20.2 people. Typically, every time a doctor sees a patient, they have a conversation. The doctor must take notes for medical records. In many instances, the doctor must also review notes to consult the patient well. Also, doctors need the records to be transcribed into electronic health records (EHRs), test and prescription requests, and notes for other medical personnel to follow.

With so much to do in so little time, solutions for improving efficiency are essential for doctors. Medical staff and patients can also benefit from increase efficiency, which is why 62 percent of pediatricians at Boston Children’s Hospital already use voice-dictation technology. This is just one small way voice technology is impacting the medical field.

How Voice Technology is Changing Doctor-Patient Interactions

For decades, voice technology in the medical setting simply meant that patients could call doctor’s offices to ask questions, schedule appointments, or receive results. Today, tools like smart speakers can listen to patients’ questions and reply with information about symptoms. Fitness gadgets can give patients access to their heart rates and other medical data as well.

Some doctors now offer voice appointments so patients can converse with doctors, receive diagnoses, and even have medication prescribed remotely. During an in-person visit, doctors may use voice technology to take notes with patients present, or to record patient’s own accounts of their symptoms.

Voice Tech Can Improve Medical Workflow Processes

Reducing steps and length of process can improve workflow efficiency in medical settings. Taking notes using voice technology accomplishes this by minimizing the need for medical transcriptionists. Given the shortage of medical transcriptionists and the need for doctors to take more thorough notes (and share their notes electronically), voice transcriptions are extremely helpful.

One systematic review of research and reports about speech recognition technology used in healthcare found the reduced turn-around times of voice-transcribed notes are a major benefit to workflow processes. Another study found doctors using voice transcription were able to see one-third more patients in a day. As an added benefit, recorded voice transcripts do not carry the risk of sloppy handwriting confusing any processes.

Future Diagnostic Practices with Voice Technology

Experts suggest that 2018 was “the year of voice” as tech giants like Google worked on enhancing voice recognition capabilities. As a result, the same experts say 2019 will be a year of trial and error as more healthcare providers experiment with the technology. Researchers are also working on diagnostic voice technology– like tech that can detect problems associated with voice-affecting diseases. Although there are many challenges to overcome still, voice technology is likely to revolutionize the healthcare industry in a myriad of ways.

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