Voice recognition software helps with MU, doc says

By Diana Manos
10:23 AM

Voice recognition software has provided the means to lower transciption costs, speeding efficiency and populating data for achieving meaningful use, according to Richard Gwinn, MD, director of urgent care at Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group in San Diego.

Rees-Stealy Medical Group has 19 locations,400 physicians,1,700 staff members and is one of the largest, most comprehensive medical groups in San Diego County. The group offers primary and specialty care, laboratory, physical therapy, radiology, pharmacy and urgent care.

 [See also: Do doctors have to be typists to get MU incentives?.]

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Prior to implementing Nuance Healthcare’s Dragon Medical voice recognition software, providers dictated or hand wrote all documentation, according to Gwinn. Transcribing notes took two to three days and was very costly. Handwriting was faster, but illegible. The group implemented an EHR, but soon found that populating it was too much work.

Two years ago, Rees-Stealy group adopted Nuance's Dragon Medical voice recognition software, and within ten months of implemention, the group went from recording 6,182 progress notes per month in AllScript's Enterprise EHR to 19,020 notes, Gwinn says. Paper chart usage declined from 102,000 per month to 4,000 per month. The group lowered transcription costs by $800,000 to $900,000 annually, representing an 80 to 90 percent reduction.

 "It took me less than one-half hour from the time I first opened Dragon Medical to the time I was using it," Gwinn says."It’s been a life changing application. I go home earlier. I don’t have stacks of charts on my desk and the swelling has gone down in my fingers (from typing).” 

With the advent of meaningful use, many physicians have recognized that while imperative, the task of manually entering data can be time consuming. The adoption of speech-recognition technology has enabled physicians at Dragon Medical to focus more on patient care instead of documentation, Gwinn reports.

Gwinn says the Nuance software has a 99 percent speech recognition rate. "It's wonderful for me, because now I can create charts accurately  and concisely for patients and I can put them in the correct fields and I don't have to touch the mouse, so I can do other things at the same time," Gwinn says.

[See also: Medical transcription technology eliminates 30 jobs at Vermont hospital.]

Gwinn says Rees-Stealy is "among the most advanced groups in the country" when it comes to health IT and electronic health records. In addition, the group does "consistently very well on quality measures."

Physicians were strongly encouraged to use the voice recognition software to populate the EHRs, and most have, but there have been a few holdouts, Gwinn says. 

As for Gwinn, he is 70 years old and wasn't "in the least bit shy about adopting" the software. "I'm very entusiastic about this," he says.

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