Speech-led documentation can improve patient service

From time to time, everyone needs the care and attention of healthcare professionals. Whether it’s a routine check-up with our doctor or nurse, or something that requires more time and dedication, we all want to feel safe in the knowledge that our doctor has enough time to see and treat us as required.

However – through no fault of doctors, nurses and wider healthcare staff – this unfortunately isn’t always the case.

Today, the NHS faces unprecedented challenges from a rising population, increasing pressure to reform and growing patient demands.

These issues, combined with the constant flux in healthcare regulations and policy, have left physicians feeling frustrated.

Recent research – commissioned by Nuance – has revealed that two in five patients (40%) in the UK, US and Germany have reported feeling rushed during their visit with the doctor.

This feeling can not only negatively impact patient satisfaction and convey the sense that they aren’t the doctor’s top priority, but it can also influence whether or not she recommends her doctor to others.

The medicinal role of conversation

Yet, there may not be a full understanding from patients as to simply how much doctors have to cram into just one 10-minute consultation.

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During this time, doctors are expected to listen, understand and sympathise, examine, diagnose, treat, and document the patient’s story.

With nearly three quarters (73%) of patients stating that “time for discussion” and “verbal communication of specific recommendations” (66%) are the two most important factors that contribute to better medical care, doctors are put under an enormous amount of pressure to successfully navigate and treat each and every patient they consult with.

Then, after they have finished a consultation with a patient, doctors must accurately record what was said, any treatment prescribed and the next steps that must be taken.

All of this must be typically be completed in a few short minutes as the next patient is in the waiting room, representing a key challenge for doctors.

The changing patient journey

Recent research has revealed that a significant amount (68%) of the patient record is actually ‘narrative’, and it is this extra information that plays a key role in building a real patient story that goes further than simply documenting symptoms and prescriptions.

But building these records isn’t a simple – or typically a fast – procedure. And given the pressure already on doctors today – with more than 50% of their working day creating, reviewing and updating clinical documentation – this is a clear challenge facing the healthcare industry.

However, by leveraging technology – such as speech-enabled clinical documentation – doctors can capture the longer patient journey, including details about their habits and lives as people rather than just patients, significantly faster than by typing traditional notes.

Not only is this helpful for a doctor’s productivity but these gains are felt more widely by patients who require different forms of treatment conducted by teams across varying disciplines – as healthcare professionals come armed with extra insights and information.

Tech-enabled treatment

Speech-enabled documentation doesn’t just free up time; it also enables improved quality of care. Patients that can hear what’s been said – and entered into the notes – often become more engaged in their care.

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69% of patients have already noticed a difference in the amount of technology being used by their doctor over the last five years, and nearly everyone (97% of respondents) is comfortable with it.

This is most notably currently desktop computers or laptops, followed by mobile devices such as a tablet or smartphone.

Some healthcare professionals may fear that their patients would be uneasy with more new technology entering the consultation room. However, in fact, over half (58%) of patients feel the use of technology in the exam room actually improves their healthcare experience.

More time, better communication, more empathy and a higher degree of involvement in the process of their own care will improve concordance with medical treatment and is likely to improve the overall patient journey.

Use of technology, such as speech-enabled clinical documentation, can enable this and unlock the necessary time for doctors to provide an improved and more personalised patient service.


Sourced by Simon Wallace, chief clinical information officer at Nuance

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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