The resilience of the NHS over the past 18 months has been incredible, but the many challenges of the pandemic have exposed areas where rethinking processes could help clinical staff work more efficiently, manage resources more effectively, and improve patient outcomes.
We recently hosted a webinar with Allscripts, one of our healthcare partners, to explore this challenge and how our speech recognition and electronic health record solutions work together to help solve it. If you missed the session, you can catch up with the on-demand recording here, or read on for my rundown of the top takeaways from our discussion.
I was joined by a great panel of speakers, all ready to dig into the challenges of medical documentation and the impact of technologies like speech recognition. Alongside my colleague Pav Sumbal, I spoke to Alan Fowles, Richard Strong, and Sharon Underdown from Allscripts about how their Sunrise EPR solution works with Dragon Medical One to provide fast, accurate, and secure documentation.
The future of healthcare will be challenging
We kicked off the discussion with a fireside chat with Alan Fowles, President of Allscripts International. With a previous career as a radiographer under his belt, Alan has an even deeper understanding of how important timely, accurate, and detailed patient documentation is—and how difficult it can be to complete it in a busy, noisy clinical environment.
My first question to Alan was a big one: what are the biggest challenges facing the NHS as we look to a post-COVID future?
He broke it down into three areas:
- Clinical: Keeping up-to-date visibility of patients’ health—especially those with ongoing conditions—has proven tricky, particularly during periods of fewer face-to-face consultations. Data-sharing and detailed documentation is vital at all stages of care to ensure patients get the support they need, and clinicians are working with the latest information.
- Resource: Staffing issues have been putting pressure on the health service for years, and now staff isolation requirements, illness, and fatigue are all making it even harder to maintain the right resource levels. This means reassessing processes to make the most of available resources.
- Financial: Digital transformation within the NHS needs to maximise the value of existing investments, to keep expenditure to a minimum while improving workflows for clinicians and other staff.
That’s certainly a complicated mix of challenges—and each one will affect individual hospitals, clinics, and clinicians differently. So what can be done to help?
Working through COVID highlighted the potential of technology
As staff adapted to working under pandemic conditions, different tech solutions were given the opportunity to shine. For example, Alan explained how tools that allow wider, real-time access to patient data can improve continuity of care across hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes, and more.
If patients aren’t being seen regularly in the clinic, their doctors can still monitor their condition and give treatment recommendations. Alan also noted that this improved communication workflow can save resources by, for example, preventing a consultant conducting a diagnostic test that’s already been done by a GP.
New clinical staff are driving technology adoption
New technologies have major potential for streamlining processes and improving patient outcomes. But they won’t gain any traction without engagement from clinical staff, which can be difficult if you’re trying to convince a veteran consultant to change their workflows. So, I also asked Alan what he’d found most successful for encouraging adoption.
“We aim to ensure that future users are engaged in the design and testing and understand some of the design decisions that are being made,” said Alan. “Drip feeding knowledge and tips to ensure clinicians are optimizing individual use of solutions has been extremely effective.”
Allscripts has also seen solution uptake driven by junior doctors, keen to use every advantage to streamline their workloads in their new high-pressure environment, especially when it comes to documentation.
Speech recognition can help lighten documentation burdens for clinicians
And that brings us to the core theme of our discussion: how speech recognition is helping NHS staff work more effectively through solutions like the Sunrise EPR. Increasingly, clinical staff are looking to speech recognition as an alternative to typing-out patient notes and removing the need for outsourcing to transcription agencies.
“An ongoing improvement in voice recognition really allows use of our technology and voice recognition across the hospital, even in noisy environments,” said Alan. “Nuance allows Allscripts solution users to pivot between keyboard, voice and touch data entry, depending on specific scenarios, both for desktop or mobile applications. And these options can suit the user in different environments. So that level of adaptability is, I think, another very positive piece.”
Recent findings from a study we conducted with HIMSS indicated that 98% of clinical staff had experienced feelings of burnout, and 85% respondents to our study into the impact of COVID-19 on burnout said that their documentation burden is a major contributor.
Speech recognition is fast, accurate, and virtually hands-free. The session also featured a live demo from Sharon Underdown, where she showed us how you can use the Nuance PowerMic Mobile app to dictate patient details into Allscripts’ Sunrise EPR, using Dragon Medical One. In just a few minutes, she was able to complete a detailed clinical summary and a set of ward notes using live dictation, pre-set templates, and voice commands. The time-saving potential for busy clinicians is clear—and timely, detailed notes are key to improving patient outcomes.
Watch the webinar to learn more about speech recognition in healthcare
There was far more to the discussion than I could fit into a single summary blog post, so I’d recommend listening to the full webinar. As well as featuring some case studies, we closed out with a great Q&A featuring queries from the audience, which covered everything from licencing and compliance to accuracy and templates.
To hear the rest of my discussion with Alan, and all the input from our other fantastic panellists, watch the on-demand webinar now.