Nuance Voice Recognition Systems is Automating Data Entry During Doctor Visits

Nuance, a firm specializing in speech recognition technology, is testing an integrated system that can transcribe conversation between patient and provider into medical records. The system is a rectangular box containing 16 microphones and a motion-detecting camera that can be mounted in examination rooms to record and document patient encounters.

“What we’re really trying to do is have technology wired into the walls,” said Ken Harper, Nuance’s VP of health care virtual assistants. “All the care team has to do is focus on the patient, listen to the conversation, and take action.”

Speech recognition systems like that being tested by Nuance have the potential to profoundly impact healthcare practices, allowing for instant documentation of patient visits to reduce time physicians spend on doing so manually.

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Nuance’s system was received well at this year’s Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society meeting in Orlando, a leading technology conference where many flock to see innovative technologies be demonstrated.

“It blew me away,” said Brian Lancaster, chief of information technology at University of Nebraska Medical Center. The center is also one of the hospitals in the U.S. testing the product. “It was the promise of technology that is truly invisible. It felt like looking into the future.”

AI-driven dictation devices such as this prototype from Nuance present as convenient solutions for providers, however, one must consider a patient’s willingness to allow an automated third-party company into the doctor’s office with them. Equipped with microphones and a camera, it is probable that many will be skeptical of the system hearing private health matters.

Nuance’s system is trained with hundreds of thousands of patient visit recordings across the country in a process that will grow in size over time to develop data to refine the product. Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, states that Nuance is seeking to move beyond the current dictation devices in use in healthcare. Though convenient, these dictation systems require the doctor to take the time after interacting with a patient to verbally dictate the notes into a computer. Nuance aims to set their technology apart from these systems by providing real-time uploading of select information discussed into the patient records.

“There are voice recognition products where I can simply dictate, and then a paragraph appears in the medical record,” Halamka said. “That’s fine, but it’s not sufficient. The dream is that the doctor and patient have dialogue, there is no keyboard in the room, and then at the end the clinician reviews the chart and makes any edits. What Nuance has done is probably one of the first production installations of this kind of thing,” Halamka added.

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Another key aspect to implementing Nuance’s system will be providing patients with information regarding its use during their visits.

“When they check in physically, we will have a script to make sure they didn’t just blindly consent, but really understand that there is technology being used to capture [the encounter]”, noted Brian Lancaster, the technology chief at University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Source: STAT News