Speech recognition software could reduce the time doctors spend writing up patient notes and sending letters to GPs.
Cybertranscriber speech recognition software from SpeechMachines is currently on trial at Hampstead's Royal Free Hospital.
Doctors dial a telephone-based speech recognition system and follow a series of prompts which recordpatients' details. The recording is then routed through SpeechMachines' speech recognition computers.
The technology is claimed to be speaker-independent. A SpeechMachines spokeswoman says, "The more the user runs the service the better the recognition becomes."
A first draft is produced electronically. The text is then sent over the Internet to medically-trained proof-readers who correct it. It is then e-mailed back to the doctor's secretary within 24 hours to be pasted into a formal letter.