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Speech Recognition in The Healthcare Sector

Speech recognition or SR, is well known as ‘voice recognition’ technology. It is in effect, the ability of a software program to be able to identify words in any spoken language (typically English) and subsequently convert them into a digital format. That is a format could easily be read by a computer or any other speech recognition capable machine.

There are currently two types of speech recognition related technologies at work in hospitals today. They are:

Front end speech recognition: This type of SR technology is more user dependent in the sense that the words are converted into text in actual real time, thereby cutting out the need of having a transcriptionist.

Back end speech recognition: This is relatively newer and more ‘user independent’ technology. In this type of system, the words are essentially recorded in a digital format and then subsequently processed by the smartphone, tablet or even personal computer. Once data transcription is complete, the finished draft is then, proofread by the speaker to ensure that there have been no mistakes made, during the transcription process.

The many advantages and disadvantages of this technology

Any new technological advances, especially in the sensitive health care sector brings several benefits but with them there are bound to be challenges. Let us take a look at the pros and cons of speech recognition in the health care sector today.

Core benefits: Some of the core advantages of using this technology in the health care sector includes the following:

Markedly lesser amount of paperwork: Thanks to speech recognition, physicians now have to contend with a lot less paperwork. If they can simply record their words on their recording devices (smartphones or Dictaphones or anything else that can capture their voice and speech) they will not need to take down extra-long notes, but simply obtain the same in a digital format or as printouts from the system.

Far more time savings: There are few people in the world who can write faster than they can talk and it is here that SR technology really shows its mettle. Instead of spending their time making endless reports regarding the diagnosis of their patents, doctors can utilize that time more constructively by dictating their reports.

Main Challenges

Ambient noise: This is one of the biggest challenges that SR technology has to face. Since hospitals and other health care facilities are intrinsically noisy places, it is very challenging for the software to sift the actual speech from the ambient noise. This can lead to errors as the speech often gets garbed during the process.

Working with accents: The software is very accent sensitive and ‘training’ it to recognize a particular voice or accent is not an easy task by any means.

In the end, we can safely say that this technology does have tremendous potential to improve the productivity of the physicians and other health care industry operators, but only once all the challenges have been successfully taken care off.