Can you save £10,000 a year with speech recognition?

A Newcastle practice unveils their step-by-step roadmap to rolling out speech recognition.

Benfield Park Medical Group is a well-established 8,600 patient GP practice in Newcastle upon Tyne, with a history of trialling new technology to streamline processes and save precious NHS resources.

“We trust its ability to enhance the level of service we provide both in the short and long term,” says Jonathan McCutcheon, practice manager. He tells us more about the massive savings the practice was able to achieve since implementing speech recognition.

A Solid Base to Build On

Benfield Park Medical Group first invested in digital dictation and transcription technology in a bid to streamline and modernise its secretarial and administrative processes. The system they chose has yielded massive savings over the years, lightening the transcription burden and shrinking document turnaround for the benefit of patients.

“Our GPs and trainee doctors just love the ability to dictate from any desktop PC within our main and branch site or from their Smartphones when visiting housebound patients. We also found the real-time, secure streaming of voice files and the powerful management console made the life of the secretarial team a whole lot easier,” Jonathan explains.

To lighten the workload even further all the while cutting costs, the surgery decided to trial speech recognition software on top of their digital dictation system.

Cost vs. savings – figures speak for themselves

 “Although there is some debate over the costs versus the benefits of speech recognition software, once we calculated the actual savings in terms of GP time and increased staffing efficiencies, speech recognition was a no brainer for us,” Jonathan notes.

The practice’s secretarial team used to spend 25 hours per week just on transcription tasks. This ratio went down to 5hours per week once speech recognition was installed, which translates into an 80% saving in staff time.

“Speech recognition allowed our practice to take the giant efficiency leap we had been eagerly expecting. When a temporary staff member returned to medical school, we didn’t have to replace the majority of hours within the team which saved us £10,419 a year. With the savings the technology brought along, the return on investment was as little as 6months,”Jonathan says.

Zero impact on doctor/admin time

A chief complaint Jonathan would often hear is that training a speech recognition system takes time and impacts on the doctor’s workload. While training a profile only takes a few minutes, reaching optimal recognition rates for each doctor can take about a month. “But if you do it the right way, starting with back-end speech recognition, the impact on doctor time and workload will be minimal,” Jonathan explains.

With back-end speech recognition, the referral letters are sent to the system for transcription in the background and then sent to the secretarial team for correction rather than typing from scratch. Any corrections they make are saved in the profile, which learns and improves the results for the next time and so on.

The front-end mode has also been trialed with 2 GPs, who now have the choice to either direct their dictation to the secretarial team to complete or to finalise it themselves. Recognised text appears on screen as they speak and they can correct and sign it off right away.

“One doctor is enjoying it so much that he now uses front-end speech recognition for the majority of consultations!” Jonathan comments. “The next step for us is to get all doctors on board and to extend voice commands to a broader range of applications such as the Microsoft suite.”

“All in all, we are extremely pleased with the synergy between our systems and there is no doubt in my mind that integrated speech recognition is the new direction for practices eager to achieve significant efficiency savings in the new NHS,” Jonathan concludes.

This article has been provided by the blog site The Microphone - Plugging into Crescendo. The Microphone brings together the primary care community around digital dictation, speech recognition and referral management technology. On this blog you can find thought leadership articles, news, interviews and case studies from GP surgeries, as well as a live demo on how to voice-enable your clinical system.


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