Agfa provides tips for implementation of speech recognition

May 27, 2004

The recent advances in speech technology and hardware, coupled with proven financial and patient care benefits, have executives at hospitals and healthcare facilities strongly considering incorporating speech recognition into their informatics

The recent advances in speech technology and hardware, coupled with proven financial and patient care benefits, have executives at hospitals and healthcare facilities strongly considering incorporating speech recognition into their informatics infrastructure. In fact, in the recent HIMSS Leadership Survey, 53% of healthcare organizations surveyed intend to incorporate speech recognition systems into their digital plans.

"As the number of healthcare facilities looking at implementing speech technology is increasing, Agfa wants to share our secrets to success," said Jennifer Caissie, senior marketing manager at Agfa HealthCare, North America. "A successful speech recognition implementation relies strongly on two well-thought-out processes: preparing or setting the stage for speech recognition, and selecting the best solution for your facility."

SET THE STAGE FOR SPEECH RECOGNITION

? Elect a leader. Selecting a leader may be the most important factor to determine if the installation and implementation of speech recognition will be successful. A strong leader must "lead by example" and provide support, encouragement, and discipline to drive the use of the product. Typically, the leader is the chief of the department or a "champion" of the solution who advocates for the benefits that can be obtained through the technology.

? Outline objectives. Facilities that have successfully implemented speech recognition had a need to change the way things were done to either enhance the delivery of patient care by reducing report turnaround time, decrease reliance on transcription services and the related costs, or improve workflow efficiency with PACS or RIS integration. There must be a strong internal push for change in order to create the commitment needed to succeed.

? Confront challenges. Expect and plan for varied learning curves and understand that there will be a spectrum of acceptance. All communication should be positive and include a recap of the rationale for the purchase and outline the potential benefits that can be obtained. To minimize user resistance, talk to potential users to identify their position on, and understanding of, speech recognition. To ease their fears, involve potential users in the project planning, goal-setting, and decision-making process. If potential users are not tech-savvy, provide training to bring them up to speed. To set expectations, be open about how the technology will modify their workflow.

? Promote best practices. In this case, best practices can often be summed up by practicing. Users should have sufficient time in "live-use" to develop consistent habits conducive to productive speech recognition usage. Ensure that all users have a solid understanding of the role macros and templates have to streamline workflow. The administrator should minimize time-consuming physical and mental tasks necessary for creating a report and arrange the necessary tasks so as to minimize visual keyboard or screen icon search.

? Show support. The introduction of speech recognition requires a plan for change management, and it is important that the appropriate support staff is provided. One or more system administrators should be assigned to oversee the project from installation throughout the live productive use of the product. Provide ongoing support and coaching during productive use. Ongoing support can be provided in a variety of methods, yet all must be planned during the purchase process. Commitment to the technology is required for success.

? Assess the acoustics. While the level of technology has dramatically improved to filter out extraneous noise, the success of speech recognition can be enhanced with a few minor changes to the acoustical environment of the dictation stations. Choose a dictation station that is away from major traffic and noisy areas.

SELECT THE SOLUTION

? Evaluate the vendor. Select a vendor that has had success in a variety of healthcare settings. Provide site visits to existing facilities to observe users in action. Make sure that the software uses set standards and can integrate with existing technology. Ensure that potential users are either involved with or support the decision to go with that specific vendor. While the stability and experience of the vendor will have a direct relationship to the long-term commitment made to customer success, workflow features are key to the ultimate success of speech recognition with the users.

? Emphasize ease of use. To streamline the process and increase productivity, select a system that provides an efficient method for using work lists, templates, and macros and for coding reports. A quality speech recognition program will allow users to modify their own vocabulary either ahead of time or on the fly mid-dictation. If users can teach the system their unique preferences, recognition rates will increase with product usage. Corrections should be voice-enabled so that the user spends as little time on the keyboard as possible. Corrections should also modify the accuracy of the acoustical recognition rates in future reports.

? Focus on flexibility. To add flexibility and accommodate different learning curves, consider a system with digital dictation options. With digital dictation users can gradually integrate speech recognition into their daily workflow, while the department or facility can maintain one system but offer both functions. To improve adoption, select a system that allows for varying dictation and reporting preferences - i.e., real-time versus batch mode.