Let’s embrace the latest technology, but acknowledge it must work for clinicians

doctor using tablet computer with patient

Recently we have seen the collapse of Thomas Cook, leading many to consider the fate of businesses that don’t, or can’t, move with the times. In a recent column ‘Clicks not bricks’, commentator Roy Lilley likened the challenges faced by the travel agent, to the challenges faced by GPs. He says, not unlike Thomas Cook, that GPs are burdened with the costs of overheads, staffing and other costs that can have an effect on their ability to provide care. However, he points out that for GPs, change can be made by looking for different ways of working and embracing existing technologies.

Technology must be designed with its users in mind

In the health sector, technology is an enabler, improving communication and offering patients better ways to engage in their care. Video consultation is a prime example, along with the use of electronic records that are owned and accessed by the patient.

But technology isn’t always a magic wand and must be carefully introduced and designed with those who use it in mind. In a comment piece for the BMJ, intensive care consultant Matt Morgan says that he finds reducing, what could be a very complex and long illness, into one code of just a few words ignores what the patient has been through. It removes the humanity from the whole experience, and he calls for a free text box to enable a narrative. However, many systems do not support this.

Speech to text can offer a swift solution, but accuracy is key

Nuance has invested time and resource into making speech recognition work for clinicians at the frontline. For example, Nuance has worked with them to understand how speech to text can be used to reduce the documentation workload.

Clinicians spend about 13 per cent of their time working with patients but up to a further 50 per cent can be spent on documentation. Speech is three times faster than typing, so speech recognition software is key to providing more efficient ways of working.

However, it can only make a difference if it is a seamless and a natural by-product of clinician-patient engagement. So, it’s crucial that clinicians are fully supported to work with the system and that is designed to suit their needs.

Putting clinicians at the heart of change helps systems work for them

At Nuance we work side by side with NHS trusts to build in that support for clinicians, right from when the system is being introduced. We seek out those clinicians whose workflows may be different to others across the trust and who may need more support in engaging. We offer classroom training sessions and practice exercises to aid learning while also ensuring there is floor support and regular meetings to provide updates or answer questions.

Putting clinicians at the heart of change ensures such initiatives are a success both for the patient and the NHS.

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About Dr Simon Wallace

Dr Simon Wallace is the Chief Clinical Information Officer (CCIO) of Nuance’s Healthcare division in the UK and Ireland. Simon has worked as a GP, hospital and public health doctor in Brighton and London. His interest in health informatics began in the 90s when he spent a year at the King's Fund investigating the impact of the internet on shared decision making between patients and their healthcare professional. For the past 15 years, he has worked for a range of organisations including Bupa, Dr Foster, Cerner Corporation and GSK across a range of technologies which include electronic patient records, telemedicine, mobile health and lifestyle devices. Simon has a keen interest in the voluntary sector, recently completing a 7 year term as a Trustee for Fitzrovia Youth in Action, a children and young people’s charity based in London.